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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

How to treat dry, flaky skin and rosacea

Adding hydrating ingredients to your skincare lineup will help, whether your flaky skin is caused by rosacea or something else.

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Curology Team
Oct 12, 2022 · 6 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.
  1. blog
  2. > Skin Treatments
  3. > How to treat dry, flaky skin and rosacea

Ever feel like you’re constantly blushing is the skin on your face persistently red? Both are symptoms often caused by rosacea. Dry, flaky skin can also be experienced by people with rosacea—but other conditions, like seborrheic dermatitis, are more probable. Rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis are both chronic conditions with some similar symptoms (like flaking skin), but they have some key differences. Here we’ll take a deeper look at skin types, symptoms, and tips for treating flaky skin. Hint: Keeping your skin hydrated is at the top of the list! 

Let’s start with dry skin

Dry skin is often confused with dehydrated skin. “Dry skin” typically refers to a lack of natural oil or sebum in the skin, but dehydrated skin usually means your skin is thirsty. Unlike dry skin, dehydrated skin is a condition, not a skin type. You can’t use products to change your skin type, but it may change naturally as you age. You can help prevent your skin from becoming dehydrated by adding hydrating ingredients like humectants and emollients to your skincare lineup (and don’t forget about your lips!) 

All about different skin types 

“Skin type” isn’t an official medical designation, but you’ll often hear skincare experts use the term to describe different skin characteristics. Knowing your skin type can help you make better decisions when choosing skincare products, especially products that treat rosacea or other skin conditions. Note: You’ll usually only hear about four main skin types, but we also consider sensitive skin a type of its own.

  • Normal skin has a regular texture and does not feel excessively oily or dry. It’s soft, supple, and may require no special care (aside from a typical skincare routine). 

  • Dry skin lacks sebum, the natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands. It may look like flaky skin that can become irritated and red. 

  • Oily skin is caused by excess sebum. Oily skin tends to have larger pores and a shiny appearance. It’s often associated with acne, but acne-prone skin can happen with any skin type.

  • Combination skin is a mix of both oily and dry skin types. People with a combination skin type often have an oily T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) and dry cheeks.

  • Sensitive skin is prone to reactions from outside factors like the environment, weather, or products. It’s typically delicate and easily irritated. 

Is flaky skin a symptom of rosacea? 

Rosacea is most common on the face, causing symptoms like persistent redness on the forehead, cheeks, and nose.¹ Triggers (like sun exposure) can cause rosacea flare-ups and symptoms. Dermatology providers are often asked how to get rid of rosacea permanently. Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure, but you can treat symptoms using ingredients like ivermectin, metronidazole, and azelaic acid. Here are some common symptoms of rosacea:  

  • Persistent redness of facial skin

  • Frequent flushing or blushing 

  • Stinging and burning sensation

  • Dry skin with potential flaking

  • Telangiectasias (visible blood vessels)

  • Phymatous changes (thickening) of the skin—in extreme cases

  • Rhinophyma (enlarged nose)—the most common phymatous change

Dry, flaky skin can be a symptom of rosacea, but there are a lot of potential causes of facial redness and flaky skin. So before you start trying to manage this condition, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from your medical provider.

Seborrheic dermatitis vs. rosacea

Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease most commonly seen in infants or middle-aged people. The skin often looks red, swollen, and greasy, and it can also cause a white or yellowish crusty scale on the skin’s surface.² It often affects areas with many sebaceous glands, like the scalp and face. Risk factors include age, sex (it is more common among men), immunodeficiency, neurological or psychiatric conditions, certain drug treatments, and exposure to low ambient humidity or temperature.³ 

Both rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis are inflammatory skin conditions that often appear across the forehead, nose, and cheeks. In most cases, rosacea isn’t itchy—that symptom is more likely to be tied to seborrheic dermatitis. And unlike rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis is also common on the scalp and ears. It’s possible to have both conditions simultaneously, but they’re unrelated. 

Here are some different symptoms between rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis:

Rosacea symptoms

  • Red, flushed skin

  • Stinging or burning

  • Visible blood vessels

  • Acne-like bumps

Seborrheic dermatitis symptoms

  • Scaly areas

  • Itching or burning

  • Greasy or yellowish patches of skin

  • Dandruff 

Rosacea sometimes looks like acne, but what you might mistake for pimples are actually called rosacea bumps. It’s important to know how to tell one from the other because treatments that work for acne may actually make rosacea worse.

How do you treat flaky skin?

Dry skin on nose

Today, there’s no rosacea flaky skin treatment, specifically. But if your skin is flaking because it’s dry or dehydrated, a topical moisturizer like the Curology rich moisturizer can help. If the dryness is caused by an underlying condition, like rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis, treating the condition can offer relief. 

If dehydration is the culprit, consider adding these steps to your skincare routine: 

  • Use a gentle fragrance-free cleanser. Harsh soaps and added fragrances can irritate and dry out your skin. You’ll also want to watch out for any soaps that create a rich lather that can also dry out your skin.

  • Apply moisturizer after washing your face. Choose a moisturizer with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe, or glycerine. These are humectants, which draw moisture from the environment and deeper skin layers to the surface. You can also look for emollients, like petrolatum, which seal that moisture in. 

  • Use lukewarm water. Avoid hot water while showering, bathing, or washing your face. Hot water can be particularly drying to the skin. If you just can’t resist a hot, steamy shower, try to keep it short.

  • Try a gentle exfoliant, like a konjac sponge, to remove flaking skin. You’ll typically want to avoid higher strength AHAs and BHAs—they can be drying—and sugar or salt scrubs—they’re often too harsh. But a konjac sponge is generally gentle enough for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

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Curology can treat rosacea

Curology was founded by dermatologists in 2014 to help people with skin conditions like rosacea. Our focus is on making professional dermatology services affordable. While we can’t cure conditions like rosacea, we can help treat its symptoms. Curology also works with its members to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, and skin aging. 

What sets us apart is service. If you have questions about your skincare products or how you use them, ask! We’re here to help.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Subject to consultation. 30-day trial. Just cover $4.95 in S&H.
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So if you’re ready to get started, simply answer a few questions and snap a few selfies. If Curology is right for you, we’ll create a personalized prescription formula using ingredients specifically proven to treat rosacea, and you’ll also get other recommended skincare products. Your first month is on us—just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling.*

FAQs

Is flaky skin a symptom of rosacea?

Rosacea is most common on the face, causing symptoms like persistent redness on the forehead, cheeks, and nose. Here are some common symptoms of rosacea:  

  • Persistent redness of facial skin

  • Frequent flushing or blushing 

  • Stinging and burning sensation

  • Dry skin with potential flaking

Dry, flaky skin can be a symptom of rosacea, but there are a lot of potential causes of facial redness and flaky skin. So before you start trying to manage this condition, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from your medical provider.

How do you treat flaky skin?

Today, there’s no rosacea flaky skin treatment, specifically. But if your skin is flaking because it’s dry or dehydrated, a topical moisturizer like the Curology rich moisturizer can help. If the dryness is caused by an underlying condition, like rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis, treating the condition can offer relief.

• • •

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

  1. Thiboutot, D., et al. Standard management options for rosacea: The 2019 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2020, June 1).

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Seborrheic dermatitis: Overview. (n.d.).

  3. Tucker, D., et al. Seborrheic dermatitis. StatPerals. (2022, May 8).

* 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

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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