Rosacea is a common skin condition that is thought to affect up to 10% of the population. Signs of rosacea tend to range from mild reddening of the skin with "broken" blood vessels to red bumps, pimples or cysts. One of the most common symptoms of rosacea is sensitive skin that reddens easily. While there is no universally accepted definition of "sensitive skin", my patients who have rosacea frequently describe that their skin burns, reddens and becomes inflamed with very little provocation.
If you have rosacea it's important to avoid products or procedures that cause irritation. Proper skin care can go a long way towards managing rosacea by diminishing symptoms and minimizing further reddening of the skin. The following are guidelines for taking care of your skin if you have rosacea:
1. Choose a gentle, liquid cleanser. Milky cleansers that are opaque tend to have added moisturizers and work well for sensitive skin. Examples include Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, Creamy Formula, and Toleriane Dermo Nettoyant. Avoid exfoliating cleansers, astringents and toners.
2. Moisturize daily, immediately after washing your face. Choose a fragrance-free moisturizing cream or lotion. Some moisturizers labelled as "anti-redness" contain anti-inflammatory botanical ingredients such as feverfew or licorice extract that may help to soothe sensitive skin.
3. Use a sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days. Choose one with an SPF of 30 or higher that is labelled as "broad-spectrum". Moisturizers with added sunscreen ingredients are often a good choice for daily wear.
4. If you find that sunscreens cause your skin to burn, choose a product in which the active ingredients are only titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. These tend to be very gentle and are unlikely to irritate your skin.
5. Avoid products that are labelled as "water-resistant" or "waterproof" when choosing make-up or sunscreen for everyday use. These can be difficult to remove, and the scrubbing necessary to remove them can aggravate the skin of people with rosacea.
6. Avoid skin care products that contain the anti-acne ingredients salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as these are often too harsh for sensitive skin.
7. Anti-aging products that contain retinol, tretinoin or glycolic acid may also be too irritating if you have rosacea. If these ingredients inflame your skin, look for products that contain antioxidants, peptides and/or growth factors instead.
Anything that causes your skin to sting, burn or redden is likely to aggravate your rosacea and should be avoided. Treat your skin gently; the right skin care regimen can go a long way towards better control of your rosacea symptoms.