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Recommendations for avoiding rosacea flares during the Covid-19 pandemic

Photo credit Michael Sand

Stress and anxiety caused by Covid-19 may result in flushing or bumps and pimples in rosacea patients which can last for days or weeks, according to the U.S. National Rosacea Society.

While flares are possible, the Society says there are ways for patients to maintain skin health, including continuing to stick to routines, keeping in touch with loved ones, and wearing appropriate face masks after applying moisturizer.

“It is important to stick to your skincare routine, keep your schedule, and maintain the semblance of a normal life, even if you are not going to be leaving the house or working like you might normally,” said Dr. Amy Wechsler in a post on the Society’s website. Dr. Wechsler is a New York-based dermatologist and psychiatrist. “Sleep patterns play an important role in how we deal with stress too, so do not stay up so late if you do not normally.”

Dr. Wechsler recommends patients spend time outdoors while following proper guidelines. Having the patient include a walk outdoors in their daily routine could be beneficial for maintaining mental health.

As both a dermatologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Wechsler has insight into the impact a patient’s mental health can have on their appearance. She noted loneliness can be especially bad for both skin and mental health.

“Make sure you’re staying connected with loved ones in a way that allows for face to face visualization, rather than just audio phone calls which will not fill the same void,” Dr. Wechsler said.

It is important for rosacea patients to not fill their social calendar, or self-medicate anxious feelings, with excessive alcohol, said Dr. Wechsler. Alcohol is a common rosacea trigger and is also known to affect sleep and mood patterns.

Additionally, patients forced indoors with less to do, as a result of the global pandemic, may be tempted to try new skincare products. Dr. Wechsler advises that rosacea patients avoid trying new products because, with a number of variables in the patient’s life, it is important to maintain a normal skincare routine in order to avoid a flare-up of symptoms.

Among the National Rosacea Society’s recommendations for avoiding flare-ups, Dr. Estee Williams, an assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, suggested that prior to wearing a mask, patients should apply a fragrance-free moisturizer to maintain the skin’s barrier function and reduce the potential for irritation or abrasion.

“If you have to go into public, try to always use a new or clean mask,” said Dr. Williams. “As N95 masks are only recommended for a specific situation—for preventing virus transmission between a healthcare professional and a highly-symptomatic sick patient—we are advising that everyone else protect themselves with plain cloth masks. Soft, natural materials like cotton are a great fabric choice for rosacea patients.”

Dr. Williams added that patients should experiment with different mask designs to find one that fits well and does not cause overheating. Patients can also design a mask themselves from a material that does not cause irritation.

For rosacea patients who are experiencing symptoms or flares, dermatologists are considered essential workers. For those patients unable to go to their doctor or are hesitant to do so, some dermatologists are offering teledermatology services.

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