Keep flare-up fear to a minimum with these expert tips

In a world brimming with lotions and potions, knowing what works for your own unique skin type can be more than just a little overwhelming. Indeed, for those dealing with rosacea – a common long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face – skincare decisions can be trickier still.

As mentioned in our guide to what rosacea is and how to treat it, using the right skincare is one piece of the puzzle (and it starts with finding the best moisturiser for you), but lifestyle tweaks may also be able to help, and avoiding common triggers for rosacea flare-ups can be one of the most effective ways to help minimise symptoms.

While everyone’s different, there are some triggers that are more commonly reported than others. Here, skincare experts Dr Sonia Khorana, GP with a special interest in dermatology, and Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, give us their expert insights and top tips on how we may be able to reduce the severity of these triggers, so they’re less likely to affect our day-to-day lives.

Need some further support or feel like your rosacea is impacting your daily life? Be sure to pay a visit to your GP for tailored advice – they’ll be only too happy to support you.

You can also check out the Boots Online Doctor Rosacea service*. Simply complete an online consultation, where a clinician will review your answers and provide advice and, if suitable for you, can provide prescription treatment for this in as little as 24 hours.

Now, over to the experts.

What are some of the most common rosacea triggers?

Triggers can differ from person to person but there are some that have been reported as among the most common. These include:

1. Certain foods & drinks

Alcohol, caffeine, hot drinks, cheese and spicy foods may make symptoms of rosacea worse.

2. Too much sunlight

“Sun exposure is one of the biggest triggers for rosacea,” reveals Dr Mayou. “So it’s important for those affected to limit their exposure and use SPF50+.”

3. When it’s too hot or too cold

Taking steps to help maintain a comfortable body temperature can be helpful in reducing symptoms.

Extremes of temperature, such as heatwaves, wind and cold weather, can all trigger a flare-up, particularly in winter.

4. Using harsh skincare ingredients

Due to its delicate nature, you may want to avoid certain ingredients if you have rosacea-prone skin.

“This means avoiding rough physical exfoliation or irritating ingredients like fragrance or drying alcohol,” recommends Dr Khorana. “However, it’s also important to note that these are general triggers, which will differ from person to person.”

Other factors that have the potential to irritate rosacea-prone skin?

“Some ingredients found in anti-ageing skincare, such as retinoids and strong exfoliating acids, may also cause irritation,” suggests Dr Mayou.

Interestingly, hairspray has also been highlighted as a common rosacea trigger.

5. Everyday stress

If you notice that flare-ups are worse when you’re feeling the effects of everyday stress, you’re not alone. In a survey of rosacea patients by the National Rosacea Society, 79% of respondents said that everyday emotional stress was one of the most commonly cited triggers for their rosacea flare-ups.

But there is good news: another survey of 700 rosacea patients[1] revealed that more than 67% were able to reduce flare-ups by finding ways to reduce everyday stress. So, you may find that a relaxation routine to help you manage stressful moments could provide some welcome relief for body, mind and skin.

What helps with rosacea?

1. Track food triggers

“It’s important to monitor your diet and identify any food triggers unique to you,” explains Dr Mayou. “Keeping a food and drink symptoms diary could be helpful here – especially if you’re not quite sure what the culprit is.”

But speak to your GP before cutting any food groups out of your diet.

2. Sun protection

As sun exposure is one of the most common rosacea triggers, consider this your cue to slather on a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF50+ whenever possible, even when it’s overcast.

There’s a great range of formulas created with the needs of sensitive skin in mind that feel like invisible shields against the elements. Check out our guide on sunscreens for delicate skin for some of our top picks. 

It can also be helpful to pop on a hat, cover exposed skin and try to find shade during the middle of the day on summer days when the sun’s at its hottest.

3. Keep your cool

“Try not to overheat and ensure you exercise in a cool environment,” suggests Dr Mayou. “In extremely cold weather, try wearing a mask or covering your face with a scarf or balaclava.”

“Saunas and steam rooms can also trigger flushing or redness, so are best avoided,” adds Dr Khorana.

4. Use skincare with calming ingredients

The NHS recommends looking for products created for sensitive skin. It can be helpful to scan skincare labels for terms like ‘hypoallergenic,’ ‘fragrance-free’ and ‘non-comedogenic,’ which means it’s less likely to clog pores.

Turning the temperature down on your showers from hot to lukewarm may also help, as well as avoiding waterproof or longwear make-up that can take extra elbow grease to remove and leave skin looking red and raw. Try swapping oil-based products for water-based ones as they can be easier to take off.

If you’ve got your eye on a new product, patch test it first. Simply apply a small amount onto your skin and leave it for 24 to 48 hours. If your skin doesn’t feel itchy or sore within this time, it should be OK to weave into your morning or evening routine.

5. Try mindfulness exercises

As rosacea flare-ups can be triggered by everyday emotional stress, Dr Mayou suggests that slow-paced, relaxing exercises may be helpful.

Yoga or even meditation can work to calm the mind and help you feel in control,” she says. Walking and swimming are other great low-intensity exercises you may want to try.

5 products to help rosacea-prone skin

From souped-up moisturisers to soothing serums, here are five of Team H&B’s top skincare picks to consider for rosacea-prone skin.

Shop more great products for rosacea in our full range.

*Access to prescription-only medicine is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.