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How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

Fact vs. fiction: the best skin treatment for redness and rosacea

Treatments that work for facial redness may also work for rosacea! Here’s what you need to know.

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Curology Team
Oct 27, 2022 · 6 min read

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Redness rosacea treatment - Fact vs. fiction: the best treatment for redness and rosacea.
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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  3. > Fact vs. fiction: the best skin treatment for redness and rosacea

Whether you’ve got a blush or an unfortunate sunburn, facial redness is something many people experience at one point or another. But sometimes the cause is a bit more complex and the symptoms more long-lasting, like the persistent redness associated with rosacea or an inflammatory response (that could be your skin sending you a message that it’s irritated). With so many potential causes, it’s easy to confuse one condition with another.

Here we’ll discuss the difference between rosacea and other possible causes of skin redness, and we’ll also share some best skin treatments for redness. But first, let’s look at the difference between rosacea and other reasons your face may be turning red in greater detail.

What’s the difference between rosacea and facial redness? 

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that includes persistent redness and frequent flushing. Unlike some other causes of erythema (redness), rosacea generally affects the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead in a symmetrical pattern. The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, but genetics and an altered immune system may play a role, as can several other factors. Rosacea tends to occur in cycles called flare-ups. If you have rosacea, identifying your triggers and avoiding them can help manage flare-ups. 

Besides rosacea, there are many other conditions or factors that could also lead to facial redness, including acne, eczema, allergic contact dermatitis, or dilated blood vessels. If the redness is near or in your eyes, persists for more than a few weeks, or you’re experiencing pain, it’s probably time to see a dermatology or medical provider. As is true in most cases, early diagnosis and treatment leads to better results. 

Here are some other common causes of facial redness that are unrelated to rosacea:  

  • Acne:It’s often easy to confuse rosacea and acne because acne-like lesions are one of the possible symptoms of rosacea. Nevertheless, the two are quite different. Acne results from clogged pores, while rosacea doesn’t. The good news? Both acne and rosacea acne can be treated (albeit differently)! 

  • Allergens or irritants: This is a common cause of redness resulting from skin irritantation or allergic reactions, also called allergic or irritant contact dermatitis. It’s often caused by exposure to certain chemicals in skincare products, detergents, medications, or plants like poison oak and poison ivy. With a bit of detective work and the help of a dermatology provider, you may be able to identify—and then avoid—whatever it is that’s irritating your skin. 

  • Frequent flushing/blushing: This usually happens in a symmetrical pattern on the cheeks and nose but can also appear on the forehead, chin, neck, and ears. For many people, it occurs after eating spicy foods, when they’re embarrassed, or in extreme hot or cold weather.

  • Abnormal and permanently dilated blood vessels: Telangiectasias is the medical term for this, and while it can develop anywhere on the body, it’s often associated with rosacea. Other causes include aging, genetics, sun exposure, and varicose veins. Even the overuse of steroid creams can lead to widened blood vessels.¹ Telangiectasias cannot be treated topically, so you’ll need to visit your healthcare provider for diagnosis and a treatment plan.

acne vs. rosacea questionnaire

Broken capillaries: What you need to know

Broken capillaries are dilated or enlarged blood vessels close to the surface of the skin that often appear as bright red lines in an area of redness. People with fair skin tend to be predisposed to this condition, and external factors like sun exposure can make the condition worse.

Unfortunately, broken capillaries cannot be treated with over-the-counter or prescription-strength topical medications and may require laser redness removal or intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. Both therapies may help diminish the appearance of blood vessels and stimulate collagen production. 

  • Intense pulsed lighttreatment uses light energy to target color in your skin. The light energy is converted to heat energy that damages the targeted area.²,³ IPL tends to be gentler than laser treatment. Talk to an in-person dermatologist to see if it’s a good otpion for you! 

  • Laser treatment uses just one wavelength for focused treatment. Laser treatment that targets the lower layer of skin is referred to as nonablative, while treatment that targets both the lower and upper layers is known as ablative laser therapy.⁴

Identifying and watching out for rosacea triggers

If you’ve been diagnosed with rosacea, the best treatment for rosacea redness is prevention. Identifying your triggers is a crucial step toward managing this chronic skin condition. But everyone’s skin is unique. What may cause your rosacea to flare up won’t necessarily cause the same reaction in someone else. 

Here we’ll list some common triggers that cause flare-ups. Use these as a starting place to identify possible triggers when symptoms appear. With a little bit of effort, you can live mostly symptom-free.  

  • Hot beverages and alcohol: Red wine, beer, bourbon, gin, vodka, and champagne may cause rosacea flare-ups.⁵

  • Spicy foods: Peppers and other spicy foods can bring on rosacea symptoms. Certain types of dairy, chocolate, and citrus can also cause flare-ups in some people.

Different ripe hot chili peppers
  • Certain skincare ingredients: Products that contain ingredients like alcohol, witch hazel, or added fragrance can trigger flare-ups. 

  • Heat and humidity, cold and windy, and the sun: Weather extremes and too much sun exposure can all trigger rosacea symptoms.

  • Strenuous workouts: The National Rosacea Society has found that vigorous exercise can also lead to flare-ups for some people.⁶

What are some of the most effective treatments for rosacea?

When it comes to rosacea, specifically, receiving a proper diagnosis is key to effective rosacea treatment. A dermatologist or licensed dermatology provider may prescribe oral medications, medicated creams, or recommend procedures like laser therapy. They’ll likely also recommend lifestyle changes and a consistent skincare routine that includes cleansing, moisturizing, and wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Here are some treatment options: 

  • Topical medications proven to treat rosacea include azelaic acid, metronidazole, and ivermectin—with prescription strength treatments available at Curology. Azelaic acid and ivermectin are available over-the-counter, but prescription strength versions may be needed to be effective.   

  • Oral antibiotics may be used when flare-ups don’t respond or are slow to respond to topical treatments. They may also be used along with topicals. 

  • Light therapy may help with more persistent rosacea symptoms or symptoms that don’t seem to go away. Laser treatment for redness on the face can reduce the appearance of visible blood vessels and other symptoms of rosacea. 

Other expert tips include choosing products that are fragrance-free and designed with sensitive skin in mind. Look for ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, which help hydrate and protect the natural skin barrier. Also, opt for a physical sunscreen made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (which tends to be gentler on the skin than chemical options) and avoid harsh cleansers, peels, and exfoliants. 

Can Curology treat facial redness and rosacea? 

Yes! At Curology, we’re here to help with your unique skin needs regarding acne, anti-aging, and rosacea. Founded by a mother and son dermatology team in 2014, Curology is a full-service skincare brand that takes the time to understand you and your skin goals. We believe service comes first, which means we’re here when you have questions about the products you’re using or how you’re using them. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Ready to experience what membership dermatology care should be? Let one of our licensed dermatology experts help guide you on your journey to healthier skin. Simply answer a few questions and snap a few selfies, and if Curology is right for you, we’ll create a personalized prescription formula using ingredients specifically proven to treat rosacea. We’ll also send other recommended skincare products to round out your routine. Your first month is on us—just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling.*

FAQs

What’s the difference between rosacea and facial redness?

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that includes persistent redness and frequent flushing. Unlike some other causes of erythema (redness), rosacea generally affects the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead in a symmetrical pattern.

What are broken capillaries?

Broken capillaries are dilated or enlarged blood vessels close to the surface of the skin that often appear as bright red lines in an area of redness. People with fair skin tend to be predisposed to this condition, and external factors like sun exposure can make the condition worse.

What are some rosacea triggers?

Here we’ll list some common triggers that cause flare-ups. Some of them include:

  • Hot beverages and alcohol

  • Spicy foods

  • Certain skincare ingredients

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

  • Strenuous workouts

What are some of the most effective treatments for rosacea?

Here are some treatment options: 

  • Topical medications  

  • Oral antibiotics

  • Light therapy

• • •

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

  1. Coondoo A, Phiske M, Verma S, Lahiri K. Side-effects of topical steroids: A long overdue revisit. Indian Dermatol Online J. (Oct-Dec 2014).

  2. DermNet. Intense pulsed light therapy. (2005).

  3. Goldberg, D.J. Current trends in intense pulsed light. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (June 2012).

  4. DermNet. Intense pulsed light therapy. Ibid.

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

  6. National Rosacea Society. Factors that may trigger rosacea flare-ups. Ibid.

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

• • •
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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