If you have rosacea (or acne, eczema or any long-term, persistent skin condition), one of the only ways to get a grip on your condition is to pinpoint exactly what your triggers are and avoid them whenever possible. It is unfair that some people have to avoid things that are a part of everyday life or are things they love to simply have “normal skin” – although, I’d argue that “normal skin” is a myth in the first place, as everyone’s skin is different from the get go.
Still, prevention is always the best route and if you can steer clear of the things that may bring on a flare-up, it means you don’t have to constantly work on soothing your rosacea.
Common rosacea flare-up triggers:
We all enjoy a little tipple every now and again but those suffering from rosacea should give it a miss as often as possible! Alcohol puts stress on your circulation, dilating blood vessels and so, bringing on the redness, flushing and other symptoms of rosacea.
Having spoken to clients and friends about this before, different people find themselves triggered by different types of alcohol, with red wine by far being the most common… it’s a pity, because it’s got all of those delightful, skin-enhancing flavonoids.
While red wine may trigger pre-existing rosacea, recent research shows that women who drink more than the recommended amount of white wine (and/or liquor) are more likely to develop rosacea than those who don’t drink at all. I’d like to point out that I didn’t see anything specifically pointing to rosé… just a comment, do with it what you will.
Weather is a tough thing to avoid…you can’t stop living your life entirely because of a possible flare-up but its good to bear the weather in mind.
- Sun exposure: there are a few things you can do to try to stop the rays from flaring up your face. A good sunscreen that protects from BOTH UVA and UVB rays being applied at least half an hour before exposing your skin to the sun can put a halt on the sun triggering your skin, as can wearing hats (they can be stylish ones, remember).
- Windy and cold weather: unexpected cold, blasts of air against the face will never be good for the skin! Wrap up in scarves, covering as much as the face as you can a là the most hip of hipsters.
- Humidity: high or low humidity can throw the skin’s pH balance off kilter, leaving you immune to a possible flare up. Try to keep cool if the weather is humid (fat chance of that in Ireland) and look into investing in a humidifier if you find low-humidity weather aggravates your skin.
Although a skincare regime is necessary to soothe, calm and treat the skin (alongside GP-prescribed medication), some ingredients can be harsh and irritating and trigger flare-ups rather than stop them. However, it all depends on which type of rosacea you are suffering from.
- AHAs (AKA alpha-hydroxy acids): glycolic acid is too stripping for subtype 1 skin (the type prone to dryness, redness and flushing), as it has an impaired barrier function and a strong acid will simply damage it further, leading to dryness, redness and irritation. However, AHAs could be necessary to the treatment of papulopustular rosacea (acne rosacea), to dry out the pustules and papules.
- Alcohol: Simple alcohols, like ethanol, methanol, denatured alcohol (alcohol denat) or SD alcohol, are bad news for rosacea sufferers and, in my opinion, for any skin. They are drying ingredients, often added to preserve products, and so add nothing to the skin and simply strip, strip, strip. Cetyl and stearyl alcohols are NOT the drying type of alcohol, but many dermatologists recommend against them for rosaceans anyway as they can cause changes to the skin’s protective barrier and result in cumulative irritation.
- Mechanical exfoliation: Exfoliating with granules irritates the skin, causing micro-tears and damaging the skin in general. Seeing as rosacea is a reactive condition, do not give it reasons to react – ditch the scrubs! To be fair on rosacea, anyone would react if you rubbed them all over with grit.
- Fragrances: fragrances in skincare can be very irritating and also make the skin photosensitive, leading to further sun-related flaring.
Natural skincare is sometimes falsely seen as the holy grail when it comes to rosacea, as it does not contain as many “chemical” ingredients for the skin to react to. This is a myth, as rosacea-prone skin is known to flare up when it comes into contact with a list of completely natural ingredients such as…
- Witch hazel
Stress and anxiety:
Stress, anxiousness and anxiety can bring on a flare-up of rosacea, just as they can aggravate acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. One survey showed that over 67 percent of rosacea sufferers effectively reduced flair-ups when they put more time into stress-management techniques and skills.
Histamines are the neurotransmitters that relay important messages between your brain and your body, specifically to warn your immune system through on-the-spot inflammation. They bump up blood flow which, of course, will bring about reddening and flushing.
Histamine-liberators include but are not limited to:
- Citrus fruits
Hot beverages and spices that warm the body up (the ones most ideal for the Winter months, unfortunately) can trigger flare-ups in many…
Common spicy triggers:
- Chilli peppers
These are just some examples of common triggers. Just because you have rosacea does not mean that these factors will bring on a flare-up for you! For the most part, these are generated from surveys, not testing, and nobody is quite sure on the reasoning behind some things provoking rosacea.
The best way to identify your triggers is to monitor yourself! What is happening in your life when you’re having a flare up? Are you stressed? Did you have a treat meal you don’t usually have that was muy caliente? Is it windy out? Maybe even keep a skin diary… never a bad plan, by my books.
Further Reading: Rosacea: What It Is And Primary Symptoms
Some information was sourced from the American National Rosacea Society website.