My name is Melissa Hunter, and I am a licensed dermatology provider for Curology. As someone who's been diagnosed with rosacea in my early 20s, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to deal with facial redness and flushing. Luckily, I was able to put my education to use not just to help my patients achieve their skincare goals, but to better understand how to take care of my own skin! In this article, I'm going to talk you through everything you need to know about this skin condition and share a rosacea skincare routine that works for me.
I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to deal with facial redness and flushing. As someone with rosacea, I’ve learned all the little things I need to do to keep the symptoms of this chronic skin condition at bay. As a licensed dermatology provider for Curology, I’m here to share my experience, in order to help others who might be living with this condition. But first, why should you trust me?
A little bit about me: I studied nursing at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and got my Masters degree as a family nurse practitioner at George Washington University. Before joining the Curology team in San Diego, California, I was a pediatric intensive care nurse and also worked in urgent care. I love working in dermatology because I get the opportunity to help patients feel their best with one-on-one care that empowers them to reach their skincare goals.
Below, I’ll share my skincare routine, as well as what a rosacea skincare routine should generally look like. Remember, everyone’s skin is different, so what works for me may not be the best solution for you.
Before we get into treatment, it’s important to have a good understanding of what rosacea actually is. Let’s get into it.
Simply put, rosacea is a chronic skin condition that is characterized by inflammation and erythema (redness) on the face. Patients may also experience bumps (papules or pustules) on the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead, which is why it may be mistaken for acne. It can also lead to recurrent facial flushing and telangiectasia (visible blood vessels).¹
We’re not yet 100% sure of the exact cause of rosacea, but we do know a few contributing factors. Rosacea tends to run in families and is more commonly diagnosed in fair-skinned people between the ages of 30 and 50—though anyone can experience this condition. Demodex, a mite that normally lives on the skin, may also have an impact on if a person experiences rosacea, as research has shown that people with rosacea tend to have larger numbers of them on their skin.² Although, some people without rosacea have also been found to have large numbers of this as well. So, there’s no one rosacea cause you can point your finger at.
There are also contributing factors that can lead to rosacea flare-ups. My biggest recommendation for people with rosacea is to do your best to avoid these common triggers. They can vary from person to person but can include:
Some alcoholic beverages, particularly red wine
It might not always be possible to avoid these triggers, but any steps you can take to reduce their impact may help you to reduce the symptoms of rosacea.
Rosacea symptoms include recurrent flushing, which involves redness that appears on the central face, acne-like bumps, and visible blood vessels called telangiectasia.⁴ Some people may also experience dry or irritated eyes. In certain cases, people can experience symptoms where the nose can become bumpy, enlarged, and red. This is called rhinophyma—but this is quite rare!
Not everyone with this skin condition will present with the same exact symptoms in the same exact way, which is what can make diagnosis quite challenging—and why it’s important to consult with a licensed dermatology provider to confirm this is the condition you’re experiencing and to understand the best rosacea treatment for you.
Rosacea is quite common—it’s a skin condition that affects roughly 14 million Americans!⁵ But in reality, that number could be even higher. Many patients may be undiagnosed and rosacea symptoms often come and go.
Diagnosis can be one of the most challenging parts of dealing with rosacea, especially because the condition can be confused with other skin conditions, like acne. But once you know that what you’re experiencing is rosacea and connect with a dermatology provider to understand the best rosacea treatment for you, you can take steps to decrease flare-ups and symptoms.
Everyone’s skincare journey is different—and as I mentioned before, some people may never even know that they have rosacea! Luckily, I got my diagnosis early.
When I was in my early 20s, I started experiencing an itchy red patch on my face. I saw a dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis—and because my mom and sisters all have rosacea, my diagnosis came pretty easily! Then, I was able to get the right treatment to get my rosacea symptoms under control.
Wondering how to help treat rosacea symptoms? What works for me may not be the optimal treatment for your skin, and there’s no single best product for rosacea that will act like a miracle. Generally speaking, you’ll want to use gentle products to cleanse, moisturize, and protect your skin from the sun.⁶
Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory medication. Studies have shown that topical ivermectin can reduce Demodex mite density and it is supported for use in the treatment of rosacea.⁷ Metronidazole is an FDA-approved treatment for rosacea that has an antibacterial effect and improves inflammatory lesions.⁸
As an adjunct to my treatment, I also use a sodium sulfacetamide wash a few times per week or when I’m experiencing a rosacea flare-up—this helps with redness and inflammation. I’m also careful to moisturize both morning and night—and I always apply sunscreen!
We’ve gone through the specific over-the-counter and prescription ingredients that have helped me to manage my rosacea—but it’s also important to maintain a proper skincare routine when you’re dealing with this condition. Here are the steps that you shouldn’t neglect.
Not only can washing your face potentially help get rid of excess Demodex mites on your skin⁹—it’s also an important step to help keep acne at bay and promote overall skin health. I recommend using Curology’s Gentle Cleanser because it cleanses the skin without clogging pores or stripping the skin of its natural oils.
Moisturizing your skin may help with rosacea symptoms by hydrating the skin and helping it feel more comfortable.¹⁰ If your skin is particularly dry, consider using Curology’s Rich Moisturizer for extra hydration. It contains all kinds of nourishing ingredients—like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and squalane—that work together to hydrate the skin and seal in moisture
SPF is a crucial part of any skincare routine—but it’s especially important since sunlight can lead to rosacea flare-ups in some people! Always finish your morning skincare routine with sunscreen. I’m partial to Curology’s The Sunscreen since it’s sensitive-skin friendly and easily absorbs into my skin without leaving a white cast.
Whether or not you wear makeup is a personal choice, but when you’re experiencing redness from rosacea, the right concealer, tinted moisturizer, BB cream, or foundation can help to reduce its appearance. Just make sure that the makeup for rosacea you use is sensitive skin-friendly and non-comedogenic—so it doesn’t clog your pores!
Prevention is the best treatment—if you know something like extra-spicy food or red wine will leave your skin looking red and feeling uncomfortable, it’s best to avoid it in the first place. But you can get through flare-ups by continuing to follow your skincare routine. Talk to your dermatology provider about any additional treatments that may be able to help.
When I’m dealing with a rosacea flare-up, I do my best to avoid my triggers. I also incorporate a sodium sulfacetamide wash into my skincare routine to help relieve inflammation and redness, as I mentioned above. Most importantly, I remember to take a deep breath and remember that it will pass!
Topical ingredients like metronidazole, ivermectin, and azelaic acid are proven-effective for the treatment of rosacea.¹¹ Each of these ingredients are offered at Curology, if right for you.
Once you know what your rosacea triggers are, you can make lifestyle changes to help you avoid them as much as possible—though I get that it may be hard to totally cut out spicy food if you really love it! Because stress is a rosacea trigger for some people, it’s also important to prioritize your well-being; get enough sleep, exercise, and eat nourishing foods to promote your overall health. After all, your skin health is part of your overall health! And, of course, following a gentle skincare routine can help keep flare-ups to a minimum, as well.
While my rosacea skincare routine may not work as well for everyone who deals with this condition, there are some general best practices you can follow when it comes to treating rosacea.
The best skincare routine for rosacea is one that incorporates products designed to be gentle because people who experience this skin condition are more likely to have sensitive skin.¹² Having sensitive skin means that your skin may be more reactive to certain topical products and is characterized by burning, stinging, or itching sensations.¹³ It’s also important to regularly wash your face, as that may decrease the amount of Demodex mites on your skin—which, as previously mentioned, is a potential contributing factor to rosacea.¹⁴
When it comes to taking care of your skin–especially when you’re dealing with a skin condition like rosacea—you want to make sure you’re using effective ingredients that will help you reach your skincare goals. Depending on the severity of your rosacea symptoms, the best treatment for you may vary. That’s why we recommend following an expert-approved, tailored-to-you routine.
That’s what we’re all about at Curology: Making effective, scientifically proven skincare more accessible, so finding what works for your skin involves much less guesswork and a whole lot more confidence. If you deal with rosacea like me, a Curology dermatology provider can recommend a skincare routine for you and prescribe a personalized Custom Formulaᴿˣ that can help reduce the symptoms of rosacea. Get started* on your path to healthier skin today!
Rosacea symptoms include recurrent flushing, which involves redness that appears on the central face, acne-like bumps, and visible blood vessels called telangiectasia. Some people may also experience dry or irritated eyes. In certain cases, people can experience symptoms where the nose can become bumpy, enlarged, and red. This is called rhinophyma—but this is quite rare!
We’re not yet 100% sure of the exact cause of rosacea, but we do know a few contributing factors. Rosacea tends to run in families and is more commonly diagnosed in fair-skinned people between the ages of 30 and 50—though anyone can experience this condition.
There are contributing factors that can lead to rosacea flare-ups. Although triggers can vary from person to person, most common ones include:
Some alcoholic beverages, particularly red wine
1. Mehdi Farshchian and Steven Daveluy. Rosacea. StatPearls. (2023).
2. Rosacea: Who gets and causes. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).
3. How to prevent rosacea flare-ups. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).
4. Mehdi Farshchian and Steven Daveluy. Rosacea. StatPearls. (2023).
5. Rosacea: Who gets and causes. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).
6. C. Zip. The Role of Skin Care in Optimizing Treatment of Acne and Rosacea. Skin Therapy Letter. (May 22, 2017).
7. James Q. Del Rosso. Topical Ivermectin: Data Supporting Dual Modes of Action in Rosacea. Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (September 10, 2017).
8. K. J. McClellan and S. Noble. Topical metronidazole. A review of its use in rosacea. Am J Clin Dermatol. (May - June 2000).
9. Chao Yuan et al. Cleanser use could decrease numbers of Demodex Folliculorum in mild to moderate acne patients. Dermatoendocrinol. (October 4, 2017).
10. 6 Rosacea Skin Care Tips Dermatologists Give Their Patients. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).
11. Diane Thiboutot, et al. Standard management options for rosacea: The 2019 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (June 2020).
12. Diane Thiboutot, et al. Standard management options for rosacea: The 2019 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (June 2020).
13. Ida Duarte et al. Sensitive skin: review of an ascending concept. An Bras Dermatol. (July - August 2017).
14. Chao Yuan et al. Cleanser use could decrease numbers of Demodex Folliculorum in mild to moderate acne patients. Dermatoendocrinol. (October 4, 2017).
*Subject to consultation. Subscription required. Results may vary.
Melissa Hunter, NP-C
Elise Griffin, PA-C