Description & Prevention
It may come in handy when you're making like Santa Claus, but this chronic skin condition usually leaves you anything but jolly. Rosacea causes the nose and cheeks to suddenly turn beet red, often after eating spicy foods, drinking alcohol or a hot beverage, or being out in hot weather. No one knows what really causes rosacea, although doctors have noticed that fair-skinned women of Irish or Celtic ancestry are genetically predisposed. Rosacea affects about 5% of the population, most often women between the ages of 30 and 40.
Fortunately, keeping rosacea under control is frequently as simple as treating your skin gently and avoiding anything that's known to trigger a flush.
Find a gentle cleanser. Use a liquid facial cleanser that contains sodium lauryl sulfate or disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate. Both ingredients will clean your skin gently and without any stimulation that might cause flushing.
Soothe your skin with chamomile. Since chamomile is known to soothe rosacea-prone skin, use cleansers, soaps, and moisturizers containing chamomile, an herb related to the ragweed family. One caution though: If you are allergic to ragweed, you should avoid these cleansers.
Avoid abrasives. Any type of abrasion can cause a flush. So leave abrasive products such as scrubs, buff puffs, or cleansing powders to others.
Keep wrinkle creams to a minimum. If you have rosacea and want to use an anti-aging cream that contains alpha hydroxy acids to prevent wrinkles, proceed cautiously. Read product labels carefully, and only buy creams that keep the percentage of acid under 2.5%. If package directions urge you to use the cream twice a day, don't push your luck. Use it once a day, tops. If there is any redness at all, discontinue using the product.
Gently apply a cucumber moisturizer. After you cleanse your skin (and also if you apply an alpha hydroxy acid preparation), smooth on moisturizers that contain cucumber extracts. Although no one knows why, cucumber lotions soothe rosacea-prone skin.
Select cosmetics for sensitive skin. Since the chemicals used in most cosmetics will irritate rosacea-prone skin, use only cosmetics that are labeled "for sensitive skin." Although not chemical-free, they usually have fewer and less-irritating chemicals than regular makeup.
Stay in the shade. Stay out of the sun, period. The sun may set off a flare-up, and no cover-up or sunscreen will prevent it.
Use only a titanium dioxide sunscreen. Even in the shade, you're exposed to indirect sunlight, so use a sunscreen whenever you go outside. Avoid all the chemical sunscreens, and stick to a sunscreen that lists titanium dioxide as its major ingredient. It's less irritating to rosacea-prone skin.
Stay cool. Since heat is a major cause of flare-ups, dress in layers of light clothes that you can peel off to keep your body cool, no matter where you are. And take tepid (not hot) baths and showers.
Avoid wool. Wool tends to keep you too warm and seems to cause redness and rashes in those who are prone to rosacea.
Choose cool food. Spicy food is known to make those with rosacea flush. Avoid foods prepared with chili peppers, Tabasco sauce, horseradish, and the like. Try to eat more dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, asparagus, and spinach. These foods are high in vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and bioflavonoids, which can improve rosacea by strengthening capillaries and boosting the immune system.
Don't drink alcohol. Alcohol causes blood vessels in the skin to dilate, making rosacea more noticeable.