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Managing Rosacea: How to Live Your Best Life

Managing Rosacea: How to Live Your Best Life

This article is for people who have rosacea, or anyone who wants to learn more about rosacea. The goal of this patient education activity is to provide patients with information on how to manage rosacea using lifestyle modifications and medicines.

You will learn about:

  • The psychosocial burden of rosacea

  • How to identify what makes rosacea worse

  • Why lifestyle modifications can help

  • Available treatments and side effects of treatment

  • The importance of taking your medicine

  • Questions to ask your doctor

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Living With Rosacea

Rosacea can be a difficult skin condition to live with. The characteristic redness, bumps, breakouts, itching, and flares, as well as the tell-tale red coloring across your cheeks, nose, and face can be embarrassing. You may tire of constant questions about your skin, and why your face is "flushed."

Instead of being fun, social activities may become a burden. Some patients with rosacea have said that they have:

  • Had low self-esteem, low confidence levels, or even depression

  • Avoided face-to-face meetings

  • Stopped dating or participating in social activities

  • Missed work

Expectations for Quality of Life

Because rosacea is a chronic (life-long) condition, there is no cure. And no 2 patients have the exact same experience; some may have more redness or flares or breakouts than others. This can make finding a treatment that works for you more challenging.

However, there are steps you can take to improve your quality of life and help manage your symptoms.

There are medicines to help treat symptoms, and lifestyle modifications can help as well. To start making lifestyle modifications, you need to identify "triggers."

What's a "Trigger"?

A trigger is an emotional or physical situation that can prompt a flare-up, where your symptoms suddenly occur. Some triggers include:

  • Hot weather

  • Direct sunlight

  • Spicy foods or alcohol

  • Emotional stress

  • Heavy exercise

Other possible triggers include some medicines, soaps, and skin care products.

Not everyone has the same triggers, and some triggers may produce more severe symptoms than others.

What You Can Do: Lifestyle Modifications

Using a journal or calendar is a great way to keep track of your rosacea. Write down any symptoms or flare-ups you have, how long they lasted, and if they were mild or severe. Note any triggers that may have caused the flare-up.

By recognizing what causes a flare-up, you can prepare; for example, by making sure you have sunscreen on. Or you can try to avoid a trigger, like choosing a mild-flavored meal and non-alcoholic drink at a restaurant.

Taking Care of Your Skin

Make sure you use sunscreen when spending time outdoors (higher than SPF 30). You can also wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to add extra protection.

Because some soaps, creams, lotions, and makeup can cause flare-ups, ask your doctor about products that are less likely to cause irritation. When using these products or washing your face, be gentle and don't use too much pressure or harsh scrubbing motions. Monitor how your skin reacts so you can find products that work for you and avoid those that don't.

Your doctor can also prescribe medicines to help manage your symptoms and take care of your skin.

What Type of Treatment Is Available?

All patients are given individualized treatment. That means you need to talk with your doctor about:

  • What symptoms you have

  • Which symptoms are most troublesome to you

  • What triggers your symptoms

  • Which lifestyle modifications help you with symptom management

Different types of medicines are used to treat different symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe topical medicines (rub on your skin) creams or gels, or pills that you swallow.

It's important that you work with your doctor to create a management plan that's right for you.

A patient talks about her experience with rosacea.

Topical Medicines

Creams and gels can help with redness, itching, and bumps on your skin. You apply these medicines to your face once or twice a day after washing. Some topical medicines include:

  • Brimonidine (Mirvaso®)

  • Oxymetazoline (Rhofade®)

  • Azelaic acid (Finacea®)

  • Ivermectin (Soolantra®)

  • Metronidazole (Metrogel®)

Oral Medicines

Oral medicines are used to treat bumps and swelling. These include:

  • Doxycycline (Oracea®)

For severe acne-like breakouts that don't get better in spite of other treatments, your doctor may prescribe other antibiotics or oral acne medications.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Some of these medicines have side effects. You may feel some burning or stinging after applying a topical medicine to your skin. Your skin may be dry or sensitive to sunlight. Make sure to use moisturizer as well as sunscreen.

Some of the oral medicines may cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Some may cause a metallic taste in your mouth. Make sure you take your oral medicine with food.

It's important to mention any side effects to your doctor.

How Long Will You Need Medicines?

You may use these medicines for a short time or a long time, depending on how severe your rosacea is and how well it is responding to treatments and lifestyle modifications.

It is really important that you use or take your medicine as directed. Because rosacea is a chronic condition, you may need to continue taking your medicine even if you have relief from your symptoms.

Do not stop using or taking your medicines unless you speak with your doctor.

Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

  • Is there a cure for rosacea?

  • What kinds of medicines can I take?

  • How long will I have to take these medicines?

  • Does everyone get the same treatment?

  • Can I stop taking my medicines if my symptoms go away?

  • Are there skin care products that are good to use since I have rosacea?

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You have successfully completed the program: Managing Rosacea: How to Live Your Best Life

Authors and Disclosures

Clinician Reviewer

Susan L. Smith, MN, PhD

Senior Medical Education Strategic Director, Medscape, LLC

Disclosure: Susan L. Smith, MN, PhD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


Heather Lewin, MAT

Senior Scientific Content Manager, Medscape, LLC

Disclosure: Heather Lewin, MAT, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


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