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Rosacea Triggers You Should Avoid

Updated on February 21, 2016

Reduce Rosacea by learning your triggers

You can improve your chances of reducing rosacea by identifying and avoiding Rosacea Triggers. Rosacea Triggers can be anything that aggravates your skin due to environmental factors or lifestyle habits which results in rosacea flare-ups.

Below is a table listing the most common rosacea triggers (as found in a survey given by the National Rosacea Society). This article will provide you with tips on how to avoid these triggers, or at least reduce their effects.

Most Common Rosacea Triggers

Environmental Factors
% affected
Sun Exposure
Emotional Distress
Hot Weather
75 %
Heavy Exercise
Hot Baths
Cold Weather
Spicy Foods
Irritating Skin Care Products
Heated Beverages
Dairy Products
Other Factors
Statistics from:
Avoid Spicy Foods to Prevent Worsening of Rosacea
Avoid Spicy Foods to Prevent Worsening of Rosacea

Avoid Spicy and Hot Foods

There are many foods that can trigger rosacea and make the redness worse. Spicy foods like oriental mustard sauce or hot salsa can cause facial flushing. If you love the flavor of spicy food, but can't stand the effect on your rosacea, there are substitutions you can make to calm the heat without cutting flavor. For example, instead of using chili powder in a recipe, substitue 2 teaspoons of cumin mixed with 1 teaspoon of oregano to mimic the flavor.

Hot beverages and soups can cause rosacea to worsen, but a simple fix for this is to simply decrease the temperature. Alcohol, too, can also cause your rosacea to become more severe because it dilates blood vessels, allowing your face to flush. Foods high in histamines (such as smoked meats and cheeses) can also aggravate your rosacea. You can reduce a reaction to these foods by taking an antihistamine about two hours before a meal.

Pay attention to which foods aggravate your individual rosacea condition, and take care to avoid them.

Sun exposure is the most-common rosacea trigger
Sun exposure is the most-common rosacea trigger

Protect Yourself Against Extreme Weather

Sun exposure, hot weather, and wind are some of the top rosacea triggers.. To best manage rosacea, you should avoid and protect yourself against extreme weather.

According the the table above, 81% of survey respondents said sun exposure was the number one rosacea trigger. If you are out in the sun, do your best to protect yourself by seeking shade or wearing a broad-brimmed hat. Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, even in the cooler months. Minimize midday exposure to the sun during summer months, and try to stay in a cool environment on hot days. Use a fan or chew on ice chips to effectively reduce flushing from heavy exercise or excessive indoor heat.

Cold weather is also a culprit because it can over-dry your skin, aggravating and causing rosacea. Wind can be particularly vicious so be sure to shield your skin with a hat and scarf on windy days. Use a moisturizer every day during cold weather to protect against the naturally drying effects of cold.

Learning how to ease stress will help treat rosacea
Learning how to ease stress will help treat rosacea

Learn How to Better Handle Stress

As seen in the table above, the second most reported rosacea trigger (at 79%) is emotional distress. This is because emotional distress and stress can make your sympathetic nervous system go haywire, aggravating and worsening rosacea. The sympathetic nervous system reacts to stressful events with adrenaline and hormones and heightened muscle awareness. Dr. Granstein of Cornell University has stated that stress also produces neuropeptides in our nerve endings. Neuropeptides are chemicals that dilate facial blood vessels, creating inflammation in the skin.

Another downside of stress-induced rosacea, is that a flare-up of rosacea can cause even more stress, resulting in a vicious cycle of facial flushing. When we can effectively reduce our levels of stress, we tend to take better care of ourselves and our skin is able to heal more quickly. The National Rosacea Society reports that 40 percent of survey respondents use stress-reduction techniques as a rosacea treatment.

Practicing yoga will calm the mind and body and reduce anxiety while also improving the quality of your skin. Experts suggest using deep breathing and calming visualization techniques to reduce stress and rosacea flare-ups. Other great ways to minimize stress is to get plenty of sleep and light exercise on a regular basis.

Using the right skin care products will help with rosacea
Using the right skin care products will help with rosacea

Get Rid of Irritating Skin Care Products

Rosacea sufferers often must modify their approach to cleansing and bathing to help calm inflammation. First, don't use really hot water to cleanse your skin, because the heat will induce flushing and aggravate rosacea. Instead, wash your face using lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser. Use a thick cotton towel to softly blot your face dry without rubbing. Afterwards, allow your face thoroughly air dry before applying any medication or moisturizer. Steer clear of products that sting (such as witch hazel or alcohol), because the irritation can cause facial redness. Avoid acne products and exfoliating scrubs because they can be too harsh for sensitive skin. Men who are suffering from rosacea, should opt for an electric shaver rather than a blade to prevent irritation their skin.

Some kinds of make-up will aggravate rosacea
Some kinds of make-up will aggravate rosacea

Avoid Harmful Cosmetics

Makeup can be an important tool in covering up symptoms of rosacea, but it can also cause rosacea to worsen if used incorrectly. The key is to use products and techniques that minimize skin irritation. Your skin is a vast portal for allergens, and the irritations from makeup can weaken skin, so look for allergy-tested makeup. Products with fragrance can cause allergic contact dermatitis more than any other ingredient, so always opt for fragrance-free products. Before using a new product, test a little bit on an area close to your face, like your neck or chest, to make sure you don't have a reaction. When using makeup to hide blemishes or cover redness, don't go overboard, because the use of too much makeup on dry skin can make it appear flaky. Don’t use waterproof foundations, because you'll need makeup remover (which irritates skin) to remove it.

A great makeup product for rosacea sufferers are green-tinted products. The green tint offsets the redness, masking it naturally. You can find green-tinted makeup at most makeup counters and drug stores. Another great products for rosacea sufferers is mineral powder makeup. This type of product is ideal for rosacea because it does not contain skin-irritating ingredients. If you want added protection against the sun, use makeup with UV protection.

More Rosacea Resources

For more resources on what causes rosacea and how to treat it, please see the articles:

"Causes and Treatments for Rosacea" and "All-Natural Herbal Remedies to Soothe and Reduce Rosacea."

What Factors Trigger Your Rosacea Flare-ups?

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