Self-help measures for rosacea 

If you have rosacea, there are a number of things you can do to help keep the condition under control.

Avoid triggers

Many people with rosacea notice certain triggers make their symptoms worse. Although it is not always practical or possible, taking steps to avoid these triggers can help reduce the severity and frequency of your symptoms.

If you are not sure whether your symptoms have a specific trigger, it may be useful to keep a diary to identify whether your symptoms get worse depending on things such as the activities you do and foods or drinks you have.

Advice about how to avoid some common triggers can be found below.

Sunlight

As sunlight is the most commonly reported trigger of rosacea, you should use sun cream whenever possible, even when it's overcast.

A sun cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 is recommended. A broad-spectrum sun cream that protects against UVA and UVB light should be used.

Using sun creams specifically designed for children may help reduce skin irritation. Covering exposed skin with clothes or a sun hat may also help.

During the summer months, try to minimise your exposure to the sun, particularly in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest. 

But remember, sun can also be strong in the morning and evening, so take adequate precautions at these times as well.

Stress

Stress is also a commonly reported trigger of rosacea. Successfully managing your stress levels can help control your symptoms.

Ways you can reduce stress include:

  • learning relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation and yoga
  • taking regular exercise

As strenuous exercise can sometimes make rosacea symptoms worse, a low-intensity exercise programme, such as walking or swimming, may be better than high-intensity activities, such as running or aerobics.

Read about stress management for more information about coping with and reducing stress.

Food and drink

Some of the most commonly reported food- and drink-related triggers are alcohol and spicy foods. You may want to try completely removing these from your diet to see if your rosacea improves.

But there are many other dietary triggers that can also affect some people with rosacea.

It's a good idea to include information about how your diet affects your rosacea symptoms in your rosacea diary.

Cold weather

Covering your face and nose with a scarf can help protect your skin from cold temperatures and wind.

If you need to spend considerable time outside during cold weather, protect your face with a balaclava.

Skincare techniques

The advice below about skincare techniques may also help control your rosacea symptoms.

  • Gently clean your skin every morning and evening using a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser. Use soap-free cleansers with non-alkaline or neutral pH. Avoid scented soaps and alcohol-based skin cleansers.
  • Rinse your face with lukewarm water and allow skin to dry thoroughly before you apply medication or make-up.
  • Look for products suitable for sensitive skin. These are usually described as mild, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic (will not block pores).
  • Use a moisturiser to soothe skin if it feels sore.
  • Avoid oil-based or waterproof cosmetics requiring solvents for removal. Use water-based make-up and skin products instead. 
  • Avoid astringents, toners and other facial or hair products that contain ingredients that might irritate your skin, such as fragrances, alcohol, menthol, witch hazel, eucalyptus oil, camphor, clove oil, peppermint, sodium lauryl sulphate and lanolin.
  • You may want to avoid using anything on your skin that you aren't sure of. You can then gradually reintroduce products once your symptoms have been treated and cleared to see if you can use them again without any problems.
  • Men may find that using an electric razor, rather than a blade, helps reduce skin irritation.
  • Some people find regular gentle facial massage reduces swelling (lymphoedema).
  • Do not use steroid cream unless you are specifically instructed to by your GP, as it may make your symptoms worse.

Make-up

It may be possible to disguise patches of persistent red skin using specially designed "camouflage" make-up.

The charity Changing Faces offers a skin camouflage service, available nationally and free of charge, to help with the use of these creams.

Your GP or dermatologist can refer you to the skin camouflage service and prescribe skin camouflage make-up.

Eyelid hygiene

If your eyelids are inflamed as a result of rosacea (blepharitis), cleaning your eyelids every day with warm water and a small amount of cleaning solution can help ease your symptoms.

Avoiding eye make-up can also help reduce your symptoms, but if you do choose to wear eye make-up, make sure it is a type that washes off easily so you can still clean your eyelids.

Read about treating blepharitis for more information about eyelid hygiene.

Skin camouflage

An expert explains how skin camouflage is used to cover marks and scars. Dina, who has hyperpigmentation, describes how it improved her confidence.

Media last reviewed: 22/11/2013

Next review due: 22/11/2015

Support groups

If you have rosacea, there are a number of organisations that can be good sources of more information and advice about living with the condition, such as:

  • the National Rosacea Society  an American charity whose website has useful information and advice for people with rosacea
  • Changing Faces  a charity for people with conditions that affect their appearance; they can be contacted on 0300 012 0275 for counselling and advice

Page last reviewed: 10/07/2014

Next review due: 10/07/2016