Rosacea is an inflammatory condition that causes redness, skin darkening and flushing on the face. In later stages, it can lead to red bumps or pus-filled pimples. For some, it also causes visible blood vessels on the face. It’s more common in women and people with fair skin. But it can affect people of all skin tones. Rosacea in men is less common—but men are more likely to have a severe case.
This tricky condition can cause a lot of discomfort and pain. And many people don’t understand how their skin care routine can help—or worsen—their symptoms. If looking to soothe your skin, these tips can help you create the best skin care routine for rosacea.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes rosacea. But they’ve studied several theories.
It may relate to problems with tiny blood vessels in the face. Some researchers believe certain microorganisms found on the skin contribute. An overactive immune system may also be a factor. And there seems to be a genetic component since rosacea tends to run in families.
Environmental triggers play a big role. Identifying and avoiding individual triggers can help minimize symptoms and prevent a rosacea flare. Common triggers include:
A good skin care routine can reduce flare-ups, improve the appearance of your skin and help your skin feel more comfortable.
Here are a few best practice tips:
Step 1: Wash your face twice daily with a gentle, non-soap cleanser.
If you have sensitive skin that’s irritated or uncomfortable, you may avoid washing your face. But washing twice a day with a gentle cleanser removes bacteria, dirt and oil that otherwise worsen symptoms long term.
Using your fingertips, apply the cleanser in a circular motion. (Avoid scrubbing or abrasive cleansers.) Rinse completely with lukewarm water. Then pat dry with a clean towel.
Step 2: Moisturize after cleansing.
Use a gentle moisturizer after cleansing to help trap water in the skin. This can help skin feel more comfortable and reduce signs of irritation like dryness, roughness or peeling. It can also help to choose creams rather than lotions or gels.
Step 3: Use sunscreen every day
Sun exposure is one of the most common rosacea triggers. It’s important for everyone— regardless of skin tone—to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30+) every day. Do this even when it’s cloudy!
Choosing a sunscreen that won’t irritate your skin can be tricky. Look for sunscreens with:
Step 4: Choose soothing skin care products
Look for gentle products that won’t irritate your skin. Avoid astringent toners or exfoliators. Skip any products with added fragrance—even if it says unscented. Look for fragrance-free instead!
If you like to wear makeup, try to limit the number of products you use. Every additional product may introduce new irritants. Here are some other things to keep in mind when you apply makeup:
Reading the ingredient label before using any products on your skin is essential. When in doubt, choose gentle, soap-free and fragrance-free products. But also look out for these ingredients that can make rosacea worse:
If over-the-counter treatments aren’t enough to manage your rosacea symptoms, it’s time to talk to a dermatologist.
There are several rosacea medication options available—depending on what type you have and how severe your symptoms are. The first step is usually topical creams or gels to help manage redness, bumps and pimples. Oral rosacea medicines can then help treat severe cases of related acne.
Advanced treatments can address visible blood vessels, redness, extra skin or other deformities. This might include laser therapy or surgical removal of extra skin.
Have a question about a rosacea prescription? We can help clear things up for you here.
If you’re ready to explore prescription rosacea treatments, Dr. B can help with that, too! Just fill out a short health questionnaire. A board-certified medical provider will review your assessment and help you understand your treatment options.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. 6 rosacea skin care tips dermatologists give their patients.
Farshchian, M., et al. (2022). Rosacea. StatPearls.
Kang, C. N., et al. (2021). Rosacea: An update in diagnosis, classification and management. Skin Therapy Letter.
National Rosacea Society. Makeup for rosacea.
Rivero, A. L., et al. (2018). An update on the treatment of rosacea. Australian Prescriber.
Zip C. (2017). The role of skin care in optimizing treatment of acne and rosacea. Skin Therapy Letter.