Tips to Keep Your Rosacea Under Control (even in the Texas Summer!)
June 20, 2016 | By Evans Dermatology
If you’re one of the 16 million Americans who suffer from rosacea, chances are the Texas summer can present challenges for your skin. Rosacea is a chronic condition in which patients experience a variety of symptoms ranging from transient flushing to acne-like bumps to full blown swelling of the face.
Some may even have eye symptoms (ocular rosacea) such as tearing, dryness, foreign-body sensation, and redness with or without the skin symptoms. While rosacea is not dangerous, it is certainly bothersome, uncomfortable, and, like acne, can lead to lower self-esteem.
There are many triggers, including alcohol, sunshine, extreme heat or cold, spicy foods, stress, and chocolate, among others. Living in Texas, it can be hard to avoid sunshine, extreme heat and spicy foods!
Dermatologists classify rosacea into four types, based on the range of symptoms and the areas of the face where redness tends to occur. However, regardless of the type, the basic tips for managing rosacea remain the same.
First, sun protection is essential. I know dermatologists like myself preach sun protection in general, but I promise you, that for rosacea specifically, it truly is a must. It can prevent flares and can slow progression of more severe subtypes. I recommend daily sunscreen with SPF 30+.
Sun protection is difficult for patients with rosacea because some sunscreens can be very irritating. If you notice increased redness or stinging after you apply sunscreen, your sensitive skin may be reacting to an ingredient and you should research another option.
I often recommend that patients look for “physical” sunscreens (formulations based on zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). Fortunately there are some great new physical sunscreens on the market – I particularly like the EltaMD UV Physical SPF 41. Keeping a stylish broad-brimmed sunhat in the car is also be a great strategy. For patients with sensitive skin, it takes some trial and error to find the right daily sun protection, but it can really work wonders.
In addition to consistent sun protection, patients should consider avoiding other common triggers such as alcohol and spicy foods. Also, keeping skin moisturized with gentle creams, such as Cetaphil or Cerave, is very helpful. Even in our humid Texas summers, rosacea-prone skin has increased transepidermal water loss. Keeping the resulting dryness under control can keep flares at bay and allow prescription medications to work more effectively.
If self-care does not keep rosacea in check, there are many prescription treatments available. In general, a low-dose antibiotic and metronidazole cream can be prescribed for the bumps. Sulfur based creams, retinoids, and azelaic acid may be also be helpful. There are even laser treatments that can be helpful, though the cost can me limiting. Thankfully, there are new medications in clinical trials that may be helpful in targeting redness.
There are many options, so put on that sunscreen and talk to your dermatologist about which treatment is right for you.
Seema Daulat, MD