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Ask an expert: How to get rid of rosacea permanently

Spoiler alert: You can’t. But here’s what you can do to help prevent flare-ups.

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Curology Team
Oct 12, 2022 · 7 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Rosy cheeks might not seem like such a big deal when you’re blushing. But when it’s because of rosacea, that’s not necessarily the case. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can cause redness and flushing across the nose, cheeks, and forehead, and there’s no cure—yet. So, if you’re wondering how to get rid of rosacea permanently—unfortunately, you can’t. But there are steps you can take to help prevent and minimize rosacea flare-ups when they happen.  

Step one: Identity what triggers your flare-ups. Step two: Avoid them! Here we’ll share expert-approved tips for keeping flare-ups at bay and clearing up symptoms as quickly as possible. We’ll also discuss the potential negative effects of leaving rosacea untreated.

Rosacea is not a one-size-fits-all skin condition

Despite all the research they’ve done, experts are still unable to answer the question: What is the main cause of rosacea? What we do know is that it’s a multifaceted condition potentially linked to genetics, an overactive immune system, skin mites (Demodex folliculorum), and intestinal bacteria (Helicobacter pylori).¹

The good news is that treatment outcomes are promising, with options that focus on controlling symptoms and avoiding triggers. Often, this includes a combination of lifestyle changes, diligent skincare, and topical medications. In more severe cases, dermatology providers may also suggest procedures such as laser treatment or intense pulse light. 

There’s a long list of things that can trigger a rosacea flare-up, and what triggers a flare-up for one person may differ from another. You’ll need to learn your triggers, specifically. Here are a few common ones:

  • Hot beverages and alcohol, including red wine, beer, bourbon, gin, vodka, and champagne² 

  • Spicy foods, like peppers, and certain types of fermented foods (like yogurt or sauerkraut), chocolate, and citrus³ 

  • Emotional and mental stress

  • Certain skincare products with ingredients like alcohol, witch hazel, or fragrance

  • Heat and humidity, cold and wind, and the sun

  • Strenuous workouts

Again, triggers can be very personal! "I have rosacea and can say that alcohol and spicy foods have been my triggers,” says Shannon Gunderson, a nurse practitioner at Curology. “This can vary for each person, but I have found this to be most common."

What are some of the best ways to treat rosacea?

The best treatment for rosacea is the treatment that works for you. We know it may sound overly simple or like a cliché, but it’s true. Treatment will depend on the specific symptoms you’re experiencing, which can include persistent redness, flushing or blushing, acne-like lesions (pustules and papules), and dilated or visible blood vessels (telangiectasias). Rosacea symptoms usually appear symmetrically across the nose, cheeks, and forehead.⁴ 

But is rosacea itchy? Not really. If you’re experiencing itchy skin, it could be dry skin or potentially a condition like eczema or psoriasis. Nonetheless, we recommend seeking help from a dermatology provider, who can give you a diagnosis.

Here’s a list of potential treatments to manage rosacea:⁵

  • Topical medications. Azelaic acid, metronidazole, and ivermectin are proven ingredients that can reduce redness from rosacea. Some can also decrease acne-like lesions caused by rosacea. 

  • Oral antibiotics. Your medical provider may prescribe antibiotics that have anti-inflammatory properties like doxycycline, minocycline, or erythromycin.

  • Laser therapy. In-office treatments like lasers and intense pulse light therapy help minimize the appearance of visible blood vessels. 

  • Sunscreen. Sun exposure is a common trigger, so using broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 can help minimize or prevent flare-ups. 

Does rosacea go away over time?

Rosacea is a lifelong condition, so, unfortunately, no. That’s why learning to manage it, by avoiding your triggers and following your treatment plan, is so important. You can also be proactive by dedicating yourself to a healthy skincare routine

  1. Cleanse. Wash your face in the morning and at night using a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin.

  2. Moisturize. Help minimize irritation by keeping your skin moisturized. Be sure to choose a moisturizer that’s designed for your skin type

  3. Apply sunscreen or treatment. Depending on the time of day, you’ll apply sunscreen (after washing your face and moisturizing in the morning) or apply the treatment(after cleansing in the evening and before moisturizing).

One thing you shouldn’t do is ignore your rosacea. It’s not going away. Without management, it can worsen.

What happens if rosacea goes untreated?

Many people delay rosacea treatment or go undiagnosed. If this happens, the symptoms can become permanent and more severe. Aside from redness and blushing, your eyes can become red and dry, which may impair your vision. Phymatous changes are rare but can result from untreated rosacea. It is thickened skin, most commonly seen on the nose (rhinophyma) and surrounding skin. In certain cases, it may impair breathing. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), rosacea symptoms can become more noticeable if left untreated. This includes long-lasting flushing and permanent redness. Visible blood vessels can appear on your cheeks, and some people may develop acne-like lesions.⁶ (Speaking of acne-like pimples… Can you pop rosacea bumps? You can, but that doesn’t mean you should. Picking and popping can lead to permanent scarring. So don’t do it!)

Several studies show a correlation between rosacea and other diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Crohn's, and migraine headaches. However, the AAD cautions that more research is needed before we can say with certainty that rosacea increases the risk of getting these diseases.⁷

Lifestyle changes that can help with rosacea 

Rosacea can affect anyone, but research shows other factors may increase a person’s chances of having it. According to a 2017 Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology study, there may be a link between obesity and rosacea.⁸ At Curology, we advise our members to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a healthy, balanced diet. But diet isn’t everything. And the AAD agrees.⁹ Here are a few other recommendations:  

Eat a healthy and balanced diet, including fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins. Studies suggest eating to promote a healthy gut microbiome and fiber-rich foods.¹⁰

young girl with rosacea on her face
  • Exercise regularly—daily, ideally—even if it’s just going for a long walk. This can help you maintain a healthy weight.

  • Limit alcohol. Alcohol can increase your risk of rosacea and other health risks.

  • Don’t smoke. There are plenty of reasons to skip smoking, including rosacea. If you’re a smoker who still hasn’t kicked the habit, it’s time to call it quits. 

  • Reduce stress through meditation, yoga, or other stress-reduction strategies. The National Rosacea Society found that almost 70% of 748 people surveyed said they were able to reduce their flare-ups by managing stress.¹¹

  • Treat your symptoms using topical medications, following a skincare plan that works for you, and watching out for your triggers. This will help prevent your rosacea from progressing. If symptoms seem to last longer, consider seeking help from a dermatology expert. 

Curology can help you treat symptoms of rosacea 

When it comes to caring for your skin, we’re here to help. Curology was founded in 2014 by Dr. David Lorschter, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. Curology is dedicated to providing affordable customized solutions for our members that deliver powerful results.   

We can help treat rosacea with ingredients such as ivermectin, metronidazole, and azelaic acid. These ingredients are used to create a personalized formula prescribed by one of our licensed in-house dermatology providers. We work with our members to find solutions to meet their skincare goals.

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FAQs

What are some of the best ways to treat rosacea?

The best treatment for rosacea is the treatment that works for you. We know it may sound overly simple or like a cliché, but it’s true. Treatment will depend on the specific symptoms you’re experiencing, which can include persistent redness, flushing or blushing, acne-like lesions (pustules and papules), and dilated or visible blood vessels (telangiectasias). Rosacea symptoms usually appear symmetrically across the nose, cheeks, and forehead. 

Does rosacea go away over time?

Rosacea is a lifelong condition, so, unfortunately, no. That’s why learning to manage it, by avoiding your triggers and following your treatment plan, is so important. You can also be proactive by dedicating yourself to a healthy skincare routine.

What happens if rosacea goes untreated?

Many people delay rosacea treatment or go undiagnosed. If this happens, the symptoms can become permanent and more severe. Aside from redness and blushing, your eyes can become red and dry, which may impair your vision. Phymatous changes are rare but can result from untreated rosacea. It is thickened skin, most commonly seen on the nose (rhinophyma) and surrounding skin. In certain cases, it may impair breathing.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosacea: Who gets and causes. (n.d.).

  2. National Rosacea Society. Factors that may trigger rosacea flare-ups. (n.d.).

  3. Weiss, E., et al. Diet and rosacea: The role of dietary change in the management of rosacea. (October 2017).

  4. Oge’, L. K., et al. Rosacea: Diagnosis and Treatment. American Family Physician. (2015).

  5. Rivero, A.L., et al. An update on the treatment of rosacea. Australian Prescriber. (February 2018).

  6. American Academy of Dermatology. Do you have to treat rosacea? (n.d.).

  7. American Academy of Dermatology. Living with rosacea? How to reduce your risk of other conditions. (n.d.).

  8. Li, S., et al. Obesity and risk for incident rosacea in US women.Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (December 2017).

  9. American Academy of Dermatology. Living with rosacea? How to reduce your risk of other conditions. Ibid.

  10. Weiss, E., et al. Diet and rosacea: The role of dietary change in the management of rosacea. Ibid.

  11. The National Rosacea Society. Survey shows controlling stress can reduce flare-up frequency. (2011).

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary. 

** Curology dermatology providers include NPs, PAs, MDs, and DOs.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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