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So You Have Rosacea? How to Care for Your Skin

Years ago, I was diagnosed with rosacea. I have tried both traditional and alternative therapies. Here's what works best for me.


Which Rosacea Treatments Are Most Effective?

Years ago, I was diagnosed with rosacea. Although I am not a medical health professional, I have tried the gamut of traditional and alternative therapies. I would like to share which remedies have worked for me.

In desperation, when I was first diagnosed with rosacea, I went the traditional route of tetracycline antibiotics. While antibiotics can be useful for calming a flare-up, the effects are not long-lasting, and extended use will damage the digestive tract.

My experience is corroborated by a study conducted by the Department of Internal Medicine in the University of Genoa, Italy. This study connected rosacea and digestive health. The study showed a higher prevalence of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) in rosacea patients and found that treating this digestive condition also eliminated rosacea symptoms. Seventy-eight percent of the patients' skin lesions cleared and amazingly, ninety-six percent of these patients remained in remission for at least nine months! This shows a much better track record than traditional antibiotic therapies. If you suspect any digestive condition such as SIBO, gastritis or GERD, ask your physician about being tested.

If you are reading this article, you are most likely battling a rosacea flare-up. Although not considered a curable condition, rosacea can be controlled, if not battled head-on. In this article, we'll discuss effective skin care solutions.

Electron microscope image of Demodex face mite

Electron microscope image of Demodex face mite

Demodex Mites

Which came first, rosacea or Demodex mites? Since all human beings are host to these mites, it's hard to say. But studies have shown that rosacea patients are infested with a higher ratio of Demodex mites. That could be due to a weakened immune system which compromises the skin's protective barrier. Or it could be that the these mites cause rosacea flare-ups.

Either way, the key to eradicating an overabundance of Demodex mites lies in a healthier diet devoid of processed foods and sugar and improved digestive health. With patience, your immune system will improve. These mites will have no choice but to find another host.

In the meantime, try washing pillowcases and towels frequently. Practice good hygiene. Tea tree essential oil is effective in killing Demodex mites, but it will also irritate sensitive skin. If you choose to use tea tree oil, only use a drop or two. If it makes your skin redder, then avoid it.

Skin Care

When you suffer a rosacea flare-up, your first line of defense is to eliminate potentially irritating products. That means suspending, at least temporarily, the use of anti-aging creams and lotions. Don't worry for the moment about your lines and wrinkles. Controlling the rosacea outbreak is your first concern. Rosacea will wreak havoc on aging skin if not brought under control.

Try cleansing with water only during a rosacea flare-up. If you feel water isn't cleansing enough then try a very gentle liquid cleanser like Cetaphil. For a more natural cleanser, I've had success with Dr. Bonner's soap. Gently wash face and pat dry with a soft facial cloth. Don't use soap or harsh cleansers recommended for acne. Never exfoliate irritated skin. Do not use any product that contains alcohol or witch hazel. Read labels, even of products said to be safe for sensitive skin. If you'd like, try splashing your clean skin with cool chamomile tea.

If your skin is oily, skip the moisturizer for now. If the rosacea makes your skin feel dry and taut, try a few drops of hemp oil. Although my skin is oily and breaks out with the use of any other oil, I find hemp oil to be soothing. It has anti-inflammatory properties that calm my red skin. Always buy cold-pressed hemp oil. It is green in color and has a nutty fragrance. Why hemp oil? It rates zero on the comedogenic chart for oils, which means it will not clog your pores. It also has a balance of omegas that resembles that of the human skin. It will dissolve sebum and control the size of your pores, which can be an issue with rosacea patients.

If hemp oil isn't moisturizing enough for you, try NeoStrata Bionic Face Cream PHA 12. Although it is not a natural moisturizer, it is very emollient and can be used on sensitive skin.

Always use sunscreen! Find one that doesn't irritate your delicate skin. I like Elta MD clear SPF 46, which promises not to irritate even post-surgical procedure skin. I also like dermatologist approved lines like Bioderma, La Roche Posay and Avene. Only use products approved for sensitive or reddened skin.

The key here is to listen to your body. Don't use too many products at once. As your skin calms down, don't introduce more than one new product a week. Stop using any product that irritates your skin.

Facial Masks

Try simple facial masks such as:

  • natural yogurt
  • oatmeal flour mixed with water or milk
  • cosmetic turmeric mixed with water

Some rosaceans find honey to be soothing and antiseptic. Manuka honey is especially beneficial since it has anti-bacterial properties. You can add it to the oatmeal, turmeric or yogurt facial mask. If you have symptoms of Demodex mite infestation, though, omit the honey. Apply mask to cleansed skin and leave for 10 minutes, or until it begins to dry. Don't allow the mask to dry on your skin. It will require too much rubbing to remove a dry mask which will negate the soothing benefits.

Aloe Vera is also very soothing and anti-inflammatory. The best Aloe Vera comes from a live plant. If that is not an option, however, try purchasing the purest Aloe Vera gel in the refrigerator section of a local health food store. Apply to cleansed skin and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing.

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Topical Remedies

  • Azelaic acid controls some cases of rosacea. I have found benefits from Azelique Age Refining Day Lotion. It reduces redness and controls my breakouts.
  • I had success with MSM gel. It has the added benefit of controlling milia, small white bumps that can appear on stressed skin.
  • Skin formulations with niacinamide are also effective against rosacea. Occasionally I use CeraVe renewing SA cream when my skin is extra dry. It contains niacinmide and can be purchased at many drug stores.
  • I have found a little emu oil goes a long way to moisturizing dry skin. Emu oil is another one that rates low on the comedogenic scale. So if you have no objection to using it, that's another one to try.
  • My skin really likes sea buckthorn oil. This bright red oil stains skin and clothing, so only mix a drop or two into your hemp oil. Use it in the evening before going to bed.

One more closing piece of advice: don't touch your face! It may be tempting to try to squeeze those rosacea bumps, but other than when washing your skin absolutely do not touch it. Touching only aggravates the situation.

If you are a rosacea sufferer, please mention in the comments section which topical products and/or skin care tips have worked for you.

In Conclusion

If you are battling rosacea, your first line of defense is to heal your digestive system. Be gentle with your skin, eliminate irritating skin care products, and don't touch your face during the day. Learn how to care for your skin to reduce redness and pustules.

If you are interested in powerful supplements and foods that can heal your rosacea, watch for next week's article: Supplements and Foods that Heal Rosacea.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 03, 2016:

I hope Bioderma works for you MizBejabbers!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 03, 2016:

Vespa, thank you for the extra little tips. If I can buy Bioderma tinted moisturizer here, I may try it.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 02, 2016:

An informative and useful hub. A very important topic and is still an issue for many individuals.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 28, 2016:

MizBejabbers, I haven't received much help from my dermatologist, either. I have been using Bioderma tinted moisturizer and it agrees with my skin. Rosacea makes our skin very sensitive so it can be difficult to find a product that doesn't cause a reaction. I haven't tried CG Smoothers but will look into that one. I used to use Clinique, too, but found many of their formulations have changed. Cetaphil is also my go-to cleanser. It doesn't cause irritation and cleanses well. I'm glad the Cetaphil daily moisturizer with sunscreen works for you. I have used Cetaphil sunscreen (a different product) and haven't had a problem with it, either. Thank you for your comment!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 28, 2016:

Thanks for your comment AliciaC!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 28, 2016:

I'm glad this information was helpful to you PegCole17. I also try to avoid unnecessary meds.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 27, 2016:

This article should be very helpful for rosacea sufferers because you've shared strategies that have worked for you. I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 27, 2016:

This is some very good information, and you have named some products that are unfamiliar to me. I was diagnosed with rosacea after a hysterectomy in 1992. I was plagued by little watery blister rash on my face after I was released from the hospital. The dermatologist wasn’t very helpful except to recommend that I cease using cosmetics. For two years I used mineral oil on my face and went without makeup. It helped the rosacea, but then I noticed that I was developing wrinkles on my cheeks. At age 50, I previously had the skin of a 25-year-old. (Good genes, I guess) A new dermatologist recommended using Cetaphil lotion or cream on my face, and that’s what I’ve been using ever since. I also found a very light weight makeup that I’m not allergic to, Cover Girl CG Smoothers.

Recently I noticed that I was getting back freckles, and that was an indication to me that I should be using a sunscreen. I found that Cetaphil made a moisturizer that contained a sunscreen and I’ve been using it. I have been allergic to sunscreens or makeups containing sunscreens in the past, so I was happy to find this one. So, I’m quite willing to try some of the products that you mention. I recently bought Clinique’s tinted moisturizer and found that it had been changed. It was heavier than my CG Smoothers and also suggested wearing a moisturizer under it. What!! I thought that was the whole point of a tinted moisturizer. I would like a suggestion for a real one.

This is very well researched and written. Thanks for writing it.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 27, 2016:

This information is helpful in deciding what to do after being diagnosed with this condition. The dermatologist prescribed medication, but I am really opposed to taking any prescriptions that are not absolutely necessary. I like the idea of using the Emu oil or the hemp oil. Thanks for sharing your experience and the alternative treatments.

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