If you’ve ever struggled with persistent redness in your skin, you’re familiar with the frustration of searching for that perfect full-coverage makeup that will hide the blotchiness once and for all. Maybe you’ve glimpsed your reflection after a glass of Pinot Noir only to be met with a Rudolph-level red nose. The battle against redness is a frustrating one, and your main opponent could be none other than rosacea. Rosacea is a tricky, misunderstood skin condition that many people often misdiagnose themselves with, so it’s important to get a professional opinion first before you seek out treatment options. We spoke with Dr. Nancy Samolitis of Facile Dermatology + Boutique to get the facts on rosacea and how to deal with this not-so-rosy situation.
Is It Actually Rosacea?
Before you try to treat any skin redness, it’s important to understand what rosacea is and how it presents in the skin. Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition most commonly seen in adults — usually women with fair skin, although it can occur in men and in other skin tones and types. It also tends to present during your 30s and 40s, and can become chronic and recurring.
People with rosacea tend to experience flare-ups after exposure to sun, heat, spicy foods and alcohol, which can show up as flushing across the nose and cheeks, enlarged blood vessels, and persistent, inflamed pimples. If these flare-ups go untreated, the skin can develop a sensitivity to skincare and makeup products and, over time, lead to broken blood vessels, a thick, bumpy texture, and redness that just doesn’t go away (eek!).
If any of this sounds familiar, your best course of action is to seek a professional opinion from a dermatologist.They’ll be able to provide you with personalized treatment options to calm your redness and give your skin a more even tone.
So You Have Rosacea—Now What?
Having a rosacea diagnosis doesn’t have to be a downer, as there are many solutions available to reduce the symptoms of the condition. Dr. Nancy Samolitis knows best when it comes to a course of action: she notably received a grant from the National Rosacea Society in 2006 to study the effects of laser and IPL on the treatment of rosacea.
“When someone has active rosacea, the best treatment usually involves prescription topical and sometimes oral medications,” Dr. Sam says. Finacea gel, a prescription form of azelaic acid, is commonly prescribed to treat the inflammatory pustules caused by mild to moderate rosacea. She also recommends using skincare with niacinamide, which has anti-inflammatory benefits and has been shown to effectively treat active rosacea in many patients.
Sun damage is also a common trigger for rosacea, so Dr. Sam recommends daily application of a high SPF mineral sunblock (and ideally, wearing a wide-brimmed hat) to protect skin from further damage. At night, she suggests barrier-repairing moisturizers with ceramides to boost skin’s ability to protect itself.
Retinol and exfoliating acids should typically be avoided during flare-ups, but if your dermatologist advises you to focus on repairing your sun damage, these ingredients can be used for this purpose with caution. If you experience any redness or irritation from them, discontinue use and stick to a soothing, minimalist routine focused on protecting your sensitive skin.
Once you have your rosacea-friendly skincare routine in place, you can speak to your derm about in-office treatments that target persistent redness. Vascular lasers and IPL therapy are your best bet, as they have been proven to be safe and effective for the treatment of redness and broken blood vessels in the skin. Multiple treatments are needed to see results but over time, and in conjunction with a suitable skin care routine, these treatments can significantly reduce long-term redness.
Lastly, try to find your own personal rosacea triggers, and avoid them when possible. Whether it’s a glass of red wine, a sauna sesh, or a few dashes of hot sauce on your dinner, remember to enjoy everything in moderation or look for alternatives that will keep your rosacea flare-ups at bay.
If rosacea symptoms have been dimming your confidence, don’t worry. With help from your dermatologist and the right treatments, you can feel like your fabulous self again. Just don’t forget the SPF, please!