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  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

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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

Everything you need to know about rosacea flare-ups and triggers

Rosacea may not ever go away, but you can manage its triggers—our list is here to help.

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Rosacea skin redness on cheeks
We’re here to tell you what we know, but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider about your specific health concerns.
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A rosy blush conveys sweetness, but living with rosacea doesn’t always feel cute. Rosacea is a common skin condition with many potential triggers (aka anything that leads to a flare-up).Triggers vary from person to person, and it can be quite annoying to deal with rosacea’s signature flush. You’re just trying to enjoy a spicy tuna roll when all of the sudden your skin is singing “red, red wine…” 

Just like acne, eczema, and psoriasis, rosacea is a chronic skin condition. People with rosacea typically experience a higher amount of redness in the central face (aka around the cheeks and nose). According to the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology,¹ rosacea can be characterized by:

  • Persistent redness and flushing

  • An increase in skin thickness

  • Visible blood vessels (aka telangiectasias) that may be broken or dilated

  • Papules and/or pustules (similar to pimples) that may look like breakouts

Rosacea typically occurs in cycles known as flare-ups.² You may be experiencing a rosacea flare-up if your face has persistent redness that doesn’t go away. How long it lasts (and how often it happens) varies case by case. So knowing your triggers—and how to manage them—is essential to treating rosacea. 

Common rosacea triggers to watch out for

What triggers rosacea flare-ups? 

So, what causes rosacea flare-ups? It varies from person to person, but there’s a good chance it’s been caused by one of these common triggers.³ 

  1. Sun exposure

  2. Stress

  3. Hot weather

  4. Humidity

  5. Cold weather

  6. Wind

  7. Hot showers or baths

  8. Indoor heat

  9. Overheating

  10. Heavy workouts

  11. Alcoholic beverages 

  12. Hot drinks

  13. Spicy/hot foods

  14. Citrus fruits

  15. Marinated meat

  16. Dairy

  17. Some medications

  18. Some cosmetic ingredients

Though the cause of a flare-up is not always clear, avoiding these triggers can help you manage them. Some flare-ups are inevitable, but many can be prevented! And just and FYI, not all of these triggers may apply to you, but pay attention to when your rosacea flares up to begin to recognize your triggers.

How to manage rosacea triggers

Rosacea triggers can become much more predictable with some lifestyle changes. One survey found that 90% of rosacea patients who took steps to manage their triggers noticed their rosacea symptoms improved.⁴ Besides making mindful changes when you can, a basic skincare routine with a custom prescription rosacea treatment can help. 

Here are five tips for when it feels like your skin has a mind of its own. 

Tip 1: Sun protection

UV rays = skin damage. Sun exposure is also a known trigger of rosacea. Vigilant sun protection plays a key role in improving and maintaining your skin’s health. If you can only follow one tip, pick this one—skipping SPF means skimping yourself on any potential skin benefits you might reap elsewhere.

  • Wear sunscreen. Opt for broad spectrum sunscreens that are both non-comedogenic and have SPF 30 or higher.

  • Apply enough of it. You can use the two-finger rule to make sure you’re applying enough sunscreen on your face and neck. 

  • Re-apply it. Put on another layer of sunscreen for every 2 hours of sun exposure (no need to apply at night). 

Practice sun avoidance. Seek shade and wear sun-blocking clothes like hats and sunglasses.

Tip 2: Cold protection

Cold weather can trigger a rosacea flare-up, especially when combined with the effects of windburn.⁵ These wintry elements can also increase dryness and affect blood flow. Indoor heat can also trigger flares—that’s a bit harder to avoid completely, but there are some ways to cope.  

  • Cover your face when outdoors. Silk scarfs are a cute way to protect your face from the elements! 

  • Avoid hot water. Trying to warm up in a scalding-hot shower will do your rosacea no favors—keep it at a comfortable temperature. 

  • Moisturize. On cold, windy days, a thin layer of pure petroleum jelly will help reinforce your skin’s moisture barrier. 

Run a humidifier. If your office is piping with dehydrating synthetic heat, a humidifier can help re-add moisture to the air.

Tip 3: Prevent overheating

Rosacea can flare when our body temperature rises. While you can’t change hot weather on your own, there are a few things you can do to help prevent a rosacea flare-up due to overheating. 

  • Dress in layers. That way, if you’re starting to feel a little toasty, you can just take off your stylish cardigan—boom. Problem solved!

  • Cool down with an icy beverage. Draping a cool, damp cloth across your face can help, too.

  • Avoid heat. It sounds like a no-brainer, but be sure you’re not sitting close to sources like heat vents or taking showers that are too hot. 

Tip 4: Rosacea-friendly diet

Foods that bring the heat can trigger a rosacea flare-up—that includes hot beverages and spicy foods. To help prevent rosacea flares, you might consider avoiding certain foods such as:⁶

  • Spicy peppers

  • Hot sauce

  • Chocolate

  • Acidic fruits like citrus and tomatoes

  • Alcoholic beverages like champagne, red wine, and liquor

  • Hot drinks like coffee and tea

  • Vinegar 

Of course, if you don’t notice that the above foods are a problem for you, it’s most likely fine to enjoy them without fear of a flare-up!

Tip 5: Reduce stress

Maintaining emotional wellness is a big part of your overall health. That’s because, when we’re stressed, our body doesn’t just create feelings, but hormones. Hormones play games with your skin, and rosacea is no exception. 

  • Breathe. Deep breathing exercises can help you in the moment. Try 4-7-8 breathing—breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, then breathe out for 8.

  • Practice self-care daily. “Self-care” isn’t just a buzzword but also an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. 

  • Start a stress-reducing hobby (or pick an old one back up again). It’s a healthy outlet that helps you maintain a state of zen. 

Tip 6: Rosacea-friendly fitness 

If physical fitness is your jam, it’s a big bummer that exercise is one of the most common triggers of rosacea flare-ups.⁷ Exercising is an important part of your health, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of your skin. In fact, mindful movement can play a role in reducing your stress levels, which has skin benefits (among other healthy perks). 

  • Keep cool. Exercise indoors with air conditioning when you can, and seek cool, shady areas if outdoors. 

  • Go low-impact. Rigorous cardio is one of the most common rosacea triggers; water aerobics are a friendly alternative.⁸

  • Take breaks. If you like to exercise for an hour a day, try breaking it up into shorter increments instead of doing it all at once. 

Tip 7: Rosacea-friendly makeup

Good news for those who love their beauty products: wearing makeup generally doesn’t trigger rosacea flare-ups. However, certain ingredients in your cosmetic products can trigger a rosacea flare-up. Choose products that are free of potentially-irritating ingredients.⁹

  • Learn how to decipher your product’s label. It feels like mastering a survival skill, and it pays off. 

  • Learn how to color-correct. There is rosacea-friendly makeup out there! A non-comedogenic CC cream can help—reach for ones with a green tint to cancel out redness.  

  • Avoid ingredients known to irritate rosacea. This includes alcohol, menthol, witch hazel, and added fragrance.¹⁰

Tip 8: The right skincare routine

Just like with makeup products, the ingredients in your skincare might accidentally trigger skin problems like a rosacea flare-up. Yep, it’s the frustrating reality—the same products you bought trying to improve your skin could potentially make it worse. In addition to only using products with ingredients that pass the quality check, you’ll want to build a streamlined routine that targets your rosacea without triggering any flare-ups.

  • Stick to fragrance-free products and avoid astringents and toners. These are known rosacea triggers.¹¹

  • Reach for products with azelaic acid. This ingredient helps improve redness in the skin. 

  • Ask a medical provider for rosacea-friendly skincare products or prescription-only topical ingredients like ivermectin or metronidazole, which are stronger than what’s available over the counter.

How Curology’s rosacea treatment works

A good skincare routine is crucial to living a rosacea-friendly lifestyle. But trying different treatment options can be a tedious merry-go-round of trial-and-error. Throw in the fact that certain ingredients might trigger a rosacea flare-up, and suddenly your shopping cart is one big confusing mess. 

Image of Woman Holding Curology Custom Skincare Formula

FAQs

What is the cause of rosacea?

Just like acne, eczema, and psoriasis, rosacea is a chronic skin condition. People with rosacea typically experience a higher amount of redness in the central face. Experts are not quite sure what exactly causes rosacea. It might be a combination of genetics, certain microorganisms (like Demodex mites), immune dysfunction, and environmental factors.

Is rosacea triggered by stress?

While every person has their own unique rosacea triggers, stress is a known rosacea trigger for some individuals. Maintaining emotional wellness is a big part of your overall health. That’s because, when we’re stressed, our body doesn’t just create feelings, but hormones. Hormones play games with your skin, and rosacea is no exception. To help reduce stress, you can try the following:

  • Breathe. Deep breathing exercises can help you in the moment. Try 4-7-8 breathing—breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, then breathe out for 8.

  • Practice self-care daily. “Self-care” isn’t just a buzzword but also an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. 

  • Start a stress-reducing hobby (or pick an old one back up again). It’s a healthy outlet that helps you maintain a state of zen.

What foods make rosacea worse?

Foods that bring the heat can trigger a rosacea flare-up—that includes hot beverages and spicy foods. To help prevent rosacea flares, you might consider avoiding certain foods such as:

  • Spicy peppers

  • Hot sauce

  • Chocolate

  • Acidic fruits like citrus and tomatoes

  • Alcoholic beverages like champagne, red wine, and liquor

  • Hot drinks like coffee and tea

  • Vinegar 

Of course, if you don’t notice that the above foods are a problem for you, it’s most likely fine to enjoy them without fear of a flare-up!

What causes rosacea flare-ups?

So, what causes rosacea flare-ups? It varies from person to person, but there’s a good chance it’s been caused by one of these 18 common triggers. 

  1. Sun exposure

  2. Stress

  3. Hot weather

  4. Humidity

  5. Cold weather

  6. Wind

  7. Hot showers or baths

  8. Indoor heat

  9. Overheating

  10. Heavy workouts

  11. Alcoholic beverages 

  12. Hot drinks

  13. Spicy/hot foods

  14. Citrus fruits

  15. Marinated meat

  16. Dairy

  17. Some medications

  18. Some cosmetic ingredients

Curology helps you build a comprehensive rosacea skincare routine, featuring a custom prescription skincare treatment to help your rosacea’s personal flare (...pun intended). We’re led by dermatologists with a mission to make quality skincare accessible to all. Because it shouldn’t take months to see an in-person dermatology provider to treat common skin concerns like rosacea, we brought the whole thing online, and we’ll send a skincare routine right to your door. 

You can start your 30-day free trial right now online. Just upload a few selfies and take our skin quiz to get matched with a medical provider licensed to practice in your state. They’ll take a look at your skin and, if Curology is right for you, prescribe a Custom Formula with a mix of active ingredients chosen to treat your specific skin concerns. 

For rosacea patients, we offer a mix of clinically proven ingredients, including showstoppers like ivermectin and metronidazole. The concentration of each ingredient depends  on your specific skin. And we can update your formula when your skin’s needs evolve. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Your first month is $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling, and you can add on any of our recommended products at no additional cost. So no need to keep crawling Google for tips and reviews—we’ll send you a dermatologist-designed skincare routine that’s made to be gentle for all skin. Ready? Start your Curology free trial now

PS. We did our homework so you don’t have to.

  1. Diane Thiboutot, et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (June 2020).

  2. Diane Thiboutot, et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Ibid.

  3. National Rosacea Society. Factors That May Trigger Rosacea Flare-ups. (2022).

  4. National Rosacea Society. Rosacea Diary Booklet. (2022). 

  5. American Academy of Dermatology. How to Prevent Rosacea Flare-ups. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (2022).

  6. National Rosacea Society. Factors That May Trigger Rosacea Flare-ups. Ibid.

  7. Lynn Drake. Exercise May Cause Flare-Ups But Can Be Controlled, Survey Shows. Newsletter of the National Rosacea Society. (2013). 

  8. Lynn Drake. Tips For Exercising Without Flare-ups. Newsletter of the National Rosacea Society. (2007). 

  9. Diane Thiboutot, et al. Standard management options for rosacea: The 2019 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Ibid.

  10. Lynn Drake. Selecting Cosmetic Products. Newsletter of the National Rosacea Society. (1996).

  11. Diane Thiboutot, et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Ibid.

• • •
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.
Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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