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Rosacea Redness: How to Manage It

by Geri Walton ~ December 5th, 2008

rosacea redness,rosacea face,cause of rosacea,managing rosaceaRosacea affects nearly 14 million Americans, and most are fair-skinned women between the ages of thirty and sixty. It is characterized by chronic facial redness, acne-like eruptions, and inflammation. Rosacea redness usually affects the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. It’s as if the person were suffering from a continual blush, which at times can be very intense and painful. Sometimes rosacea can also appear on a person’s neck, ears, scalp, or chest, or it can cause an intensely red and bulbous-looking nose that people mistake as being caused by alcoholism or heavy drinking.

For certain people, rosacea can be devastating, and sufferers can feel isolated because of how they look. There’s also no way to cure rosacea, but there are things rosacea sufferers can do to help manage symptoms. Here’s a few:

  • Aspirin May Help.  A recent study in relation to aspirin found the same properties that help aspirin constrict blood vessels during a headache may be the same properties that help suppress the vascular dilation causing rosacea. If you’re interested in learning more read Aspirin and Rosacea: Hush the Blush.
  • Avoid Alcohol.  Although alcohol isn’t the cause of rosacea, it can make it worse. In a study of 700 patients by the National Rosacea Society, red wine was the worse culprit. It was followed by white white, beer, champagne, vodka, tequila, bourbon, gin, rum, and scotch, respectively. More importantly, 90 percent of the people in study who drank, found after they limited their alcohol consumption, their rosacea flare-ups were reduced.
  • Avoid Certain Foods.  Some people have found the following foods cause flare-ups. They are avocado, cheese, and eggplant.
  • Avoid Certain Products.  A number of products, such as astringents, exfoliators, alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, fragrance, and eucalyptus and clove oils, as well as the ingredient salicylic acid in certain skin care products, can cause irritation. So, avoid any products that burn, sting, or irritate. If you want to learn more about salicylates, read Salicylate Sensitivity and Intolerance.
  • Avoid Cinnamon.  Although cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant, one study published in June of 2008 and available at NCBI, found cinnamon can often worsen rosacea symptoms because it acts as a vasodilator and dilates blood vessels.
  • Avoid the Sun and Environmental Extremes. Do what you can to limit your time in the sun because UV rays can be particularly damaging to rosacea sufferers. Also, use a good sunblock, not sunscreen, and, if you’re unsure of the difference between the two, read Sunblock Versus Sunscreen. Wind, cold weather, and heat can also cause rosacea flare-ups in some people.
  • Avoid Long-term Topical Steroids.  Although steroids can treat rosacea-like symptoms temporarily, they are not a long-term solution and, in fact, can sometimes induce rosacea symptoms.  
  • Be Gentle.  Whenever washing or cleaning your face, be gentle. Use mild soaps, mild cleansers, and mild products. Never use anything that is abrasive, grainy, or rough, and remember anything you apply to your face needs to be done lightly with your fingertips. Avoid rough wash cloths, loofahs, or sponges, rinse with cool or luke-warm water, and let your face air dry for up to five minutes before you put on any medications or skin care products.
  • Cool Baths and Showers.  Hot water often exacerbates the problem, so when you shower or bath, chose luke-warm or cool water.
  • Exercise.  Overheating can spark rosacea in some people, but even though you have rosacea, you still need to be physical fit. Ways to reduce overheating include using a fan when you exercise or exercising early in the morning or late in the day when it’s cool. Low-impact exercises, such as water aerobics or swimming are good choices. If you’re a beginning swimmer, here’s a great post on Getting Started with Swimming for Fitness
  • Green Tea.  For some sufferers, green tea can help reduce sensitivity to ultraviolet light. In addition, it may help symptoms because it’s an anti-inflammatory. To learn more about green tea’s health benefits, read Green Tea Miracles.
  • Herbs.  For some rosacea sufferers herbs may help, but for others they may exacerbate the problem. The most frequently used herbs for rosacea sufferers are anti-inflammatories, such as camphor oil, chamomile, feverfew, lavender, licorice, oatmeal, and tea tree oil. However, remember herbs are plants, and people can have reactions to them. Do your research before you use herbs internally or externally.
  • Hot Beverages and Spicy Food.  Not every sufferer experiences problems when they eat a hot meal or consume spicy food, but some people do. If you do, try luke-warm teas, coffees, and ciders, as well as non-spicy foods.
  • Keep a Diary.  If you’re not sure what is causing your rosacea symptoms, the only way you’ll ever figure it out is to keep a diary. If you’re interested, The National Rosacea Society has a free “Rosacea Diary” you can order by filling out this form. (It comes by snail mail). The diary is designed to help rosacea sufferers identify and avoid individual triggers.
  • Limit Stress.  Stress always seems to exacerbate any ailment and that is precisely the case with rosacea. So, learn good techniques to alleviate stress. If you’re interested in some stress buster tools, read The Yellow Brick Road for the Stressed Out, Over Stressed, and Just Plain Stressed, Techniques to Relieve Stress, or Mindfulness Techniques. There is also this CD, Stress Relief Through Guided Imagery, that provides valuable techniques on how to alleviate stress in your life.
  • Shaving.  Razors can irritate sensitive facial skin and make the situation worse, so opt for an electric razor to minimize irritation, and then use a light moisturizer to keep your skin moist.
  • Try Aromatherapy.  Some people have benefited from aromatherapy as several essential oils offer medicinal, anti-inflammatory, and skin rejuvenation benefits. If you’re interested in learning more, read Aromatherapy Aids for Rosacea Sufferers.

What exactly causes rosacea is a mystery. However, skin problems are often related to digestion, and, many rosacea sufferers have some sort of digestive problems, often related to low stomach acid. They may also experience constipation or sluggish bowels because of improper digestion, or they may have leaky gut syndrome. In addition, there can be yeast overgrowth or deficiencies in B vitamins, particularly B12. Some women have worse symptoms because of hormone changes brought about through birth control pills, estrogen levels, menstruation, perimenopause, or postmenopausal symptoms.

If you do not take care of your rosacea and avoid triggers, over time blood vessels can be incapable of constricting properly. That means you could end up with a continual blush. If triggers continue and you don’t do someting about it, your face could get redder and redder, until pimples occur. In some cases the pimples don’t disappear, and, things can gets worse. For instance, in severe rosacea cases, disfigurement has been the result of uncontrolled rosacea.

If you want more information, has a good post, with alot of ideas written by The Snow Queen. She also provides a list of rosacea irritants found in cosmetics and offers information on treatment options. There is also a site owned by Dr. Geoffrey Nase, who is a rosacea research specialist. He provides the latest treatment information on rosacea and redness. There is also this self-help guide titled Rosacea: Your Self-Help Guide. The guide discusses treatment options, nutrition, stress management, and more.

7 Responses to Rosacea Redness: How to Manage It

  1. Dawn

    Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I hope to see you again. You have a ton of interesting information on your blog. On Tuesdays I do a thinking girl post and this week I think I”m going to talk about depression so I will go thru what you have also!

    I’m in the process of learning how to make homemade bath scrubs and a couple other products so I will also check out if you have information on natural scents–herbs etc.

  2. Blond Duck

    Interesting article!

  3. Ginger

    Hi Geri.
    I have had rosacea for years. I used to use a prescription cream on my face, but I haven’t done that for a long time. Whenever I drink a glass of wine, or I’m out in the sun, or just cooking in my kitchen with the oven on and I get warm, boy does my cheeks get red. I hate all the broken little veins in my cheeks.

  4. Claire

    I have read through your blog and found it most interesting, so many thanks. I have suffered with Rosacea for 6 years now and it has just got worse and worse. My whole face now flares up and is now red, bumpy, peeling, sore, flushing, burns like hell for hours at a time and is completely taking over my life. I cant find what makes it flare up? I have tried Metronidazole gel, antibiotics which did start to work really well, but then when my face feels like flaring up-it just does. I have to re-apply my make up twice a day at work as it kicks my make up straight off within 3 hours. Cold air on my face (fan) is the only thing that makes it feel better. I am really miserable and hope that I find someone that has found a way to manage advanced stage Rosacea. Kindest Regards-Claire.

  5. felicity

    whilst i agree with most information in your article, i also find it a little state in your article that aspirin may help rosacea, and then advise avoiding salicylates/ salicylic acid. however, do you realise the active ingredient in aspirin IS a salicylic acid derivative.
    whilst i have read of many acne sufferers benefiting for salicylic acid (topically) acne and rosacea, despite similar presentations are two VERY different conditions. i have heard of several rosacea sufferers who have found eliminating salicylates, amine and glutamates from thier diet highly beneficial.

  6. Geri Walton

    Yes I realize salicylic acid IS what makes up aspirin. However, as stated sometimes aspirin MAY help suppress the vascular dilation causing rosacea. On the other hand, some people may find it makes their problem worse when they apply it topically. What works for one person may not work for another.

  7. Sarah

    I have suffered with rosacea for about 2 and a half years now. I never had it terribly bad, but had a permanent red area with lots of red dots all over one side of my face that continually got worse. I’ve tried everything and nothing worked to a long term degree.

    But recently I removed all salicylates, amine and glutamates from my diet and my face is nearly back to normal! It also doesn’t hurt and I used to be very itchy all over and now I’m not. I was inspired by some posts by the girl who runs this group – – anyhow it’s a difficult diet to stick with, but man it’s so much better then the alternative.

    I advise anyone with rosacea to really try this first, as antibiotics are the only real treatment from dermatologists, and since rosacea is a chronic problem, that will never solve the issue long term. Rosacea just gets worse over time until you treat the problem. I think once you’ve gotten rid of the rosacea completely you can start to add these things back into your diet with close monitoring. But seriously seriously try this- I can’t believe what an amazing effect it’s had on my life. I had tried laser treatments, antibiotics, various creams, light treatments- and other then mild improvements, the diet change is the only thing that has cured me. Good luck everyone!

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