If you have rosacea, you know that your symptoms may come and go. Over time, you might start to recognize different things that cause redness or make it worse. “The only way to prevent a rosacea flare is to really know your triggers,” says Michelle Henry, MD, dermatologist in New York City and clinical instructor at Weill Cornell Medical College.
While different people have different rosacea triggers, there are a few rosacea triggers that are more common: UV light, heat, stress, spicy foods, and alcohol, to name a few.
Knowing your triggers is beneficial for preventing those frustrating rosacea flares—and keeping your rosacea under control has a number of benefits. Not only does it reduce your symptoms and preserve your confidence, but preventing rosacea flares can also help keep your rosacea from getting worse or developing complications.
Here’s what Dr. Henry recommends to manage rosacea flares:
1. Limit your time in the sun
Limiting exposure to UV light is good for managing rosacea *and* your risk of skin cancer. You can't avoid the sun completely (and it's not recommended to do so, since the sun provides vitamin D and can help with hormone regulation). When you are in the sun, wear sunscreen (see #2) and a wide-brimmed hat, and stay in the shade as much as possible.
2. Wear mineral sunscreen
Chemical sunscreens absorb UV light and then release it as heat, which is “the last thing you want to do” if you have rosacea, says Dr. Henry. Mineral sunscreen, on the other hand, reflects UV light to protect the skin. Someone with rosacea may also be sensitive to the chemicals in chemical sunscreen.
3. Limit or avoid alcohol
It’s best to avoid alcohol, or at least use it in moderation: That’s no more than two drinks per day for men, and no more than one drink per day for women. (BTW, a wine glass filled to the brim would count as several drinks—sorry.)
4. Plan workouts carefully
There are many benefits of exercise, so cutting it out of your routine to manage your rosacea is not recommended. Plus, exercise may help reduce stress, another rosacea trigger. “We don’t want to tell you to not exercise, so we try to position your workouts at a time when you don’t feel like you’re flaring aggressively,” says Dr. Henry.
For rosacea-safe exercise, choose low-intensity workouts in an air-conditioned gym or fitness center (as opposed to under the hot sun). You can also help prevent overheating by exercising in water. After exercising, try applying a cold compress or finding a cooler space to help the body return to a comfortable temperature. You can also place wet cloths around your neck or drink cold beverages.
Behavioral modifications are the most effective way to treat rosacea, but if your flushing persists despite lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend medical interventions, such as laser and light-based therapies, or topical brimonidine gel.
“If someone is really struggling with their rosacea, I always recommend seeing a board-certified dermatologist. We can really help to assess the type of rosacea that you have [and] find a treatment that really is within your comfort level,” says Dr. Henry. “Don’t struggle alone at home.”