How To Treat Rosacea

by Gio
the best rosacea treatment

Is there anything more frustrating than having rosacea?

You practically have to walk around with a red flush all over your cheeks and nose. And do we want to talk about those acne-like bumps? They’re everywhere!

To add insult to injury, no one even knows what the heck causes the problem. Kinda hard to find a rosacea treatment when you don’t know what the culprit is…

But, wait! Not all hope is lost. You can get rid of the redness and pimple-like bumps and everything else rosacea throws at you and get back your clear, flawless skin.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the best rosacea treatment to keep your skin under control and prevent another flare-up:

How Can You Tell If You Have Rosacea?

First things first. Let’s make sure you have rosacea and not something that looks like it.

Here’s a list of symptoms:

  • Acne-like bumps
  • Dilated blood vessels
  • Face swelling
  • Redness in the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead
  • Slightly burning sensation
  • Super sensitive skin (everything irritates it!)

Check, check, check? You’ve got rosacea.

The best thing you can do for your skin is go to a dermatologist. She can prescribe you the best rosacea treatment out there. Yep, even the prescription stuff you can’t get at Sephora.

In the meantime, there are plenty of things you can do to keep rosacea under control:


Want to know what ingredients you really need to avoid in your skincare products? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheatsheet:


The Best Rosacea Treatment To Cure & Prevent Flare-Ups

The best rosacea treatment is prevention. The key is to treat your skin as gently as possible and avoid everything that can irritate it and trigger rosacea. Here’s how:

cerave hydrating cleanser

1. Use A Gentle Cleanser That Doesn’t Strip Skin Bare

Cleansing is the foundation of a good skincare routine. It melts away dirt and impurities, leaving skin clean and ready to absorb whatever skincare product you use next.

Cleansing is also the most dangerous step in your skincare routine. A cleanser that’s too harsh or has a high pH (above six) will strip too much oil off your skin and destroy its protective barrier, leaving your skin drier and more prone to irritation.

The best cleanser for rosacea is gentle, moisturising and pH-balanced. Look for cream or milk formulas that replenish oil as it’s stripped away.

As a rule of thumb, if your skin feels tight and dry after washing, it’s too harsh for you.

While we’re talking cleansers, avoid bar soaps like the plague. They leave a residue on the skin that can easily irritate it. Ugh.

Best Picks:

Related: Are You Using A Low pH Cleanser? Here’s Why It Matters 

2. Avoid Harsh Toners That Irritate Skin

I’m a fan of removing any skincare product that’s not absolutely necessary – especially if you’re dealing with rosacea. Toners fall in this category. Heck, for a rosacea treatment, they can be downright dangerous!

It’s true a hydrating toner can help in some cases. But those toners loaded with alcohol, witch hazel and not much else? Leave them on the shelf.

They’re a recipe for dryness and irritation and can worsen your rosacea. Avoid!

Related: Are Toners Necessary?

3. Wear Sunscreen Daily To Protect Skin From The Sun

Did you know that UV rays can trigger a rosacea flareup?

Yep, wrinkles, dark spots and cancer weren’t enough. UV rays can inflame your skin so much, it gets all red and swollen.

Sunscreen isn’t optional. It’s the cornerstone of any good rosacea treatment.

But… not every sunscreen will do. Opt for mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide. I know they’re thick and leave a white cast behind but they’re super gentle and don’t irritate skin – and give you another flareup!

P.S. If you’re outside the US and have access to sunscreens with Tinosorb and Mexoryl, cool. They’re good alternatives to zinc oxide for rosacea sufferers too.

Best Picks:

  • EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 ($33.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
  • La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 ($33.50): available at Dermstore and Ulta
  • MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme SPF 50 Broad Spectrum UVA-UVB ($30.00): available at Dermstore

Related: Sensitive Skin? Why You Should Stick To Mineral Sunscreens

niod modulating glucosides review

4. Use Product Loaded With Antioxidants And Soothing Ingredients To Calm Down Irritated Skin

When you’re shopping around for a skincare product – be it a serum, moisturiser or whatever – make sure it’s loaded to the brim with antioxidants and soothing ingredients.

Antioxidants like green tea and vitamin C neutralise free radicals before they can trigger the inflammation that destroy collagen, proteins, cellular DNA, and trigger a rosacea flare-up.

Most antioxidants – like green tea – also have anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritations and calm down redness. Other soothing ingredients to look out for are aloe vera, allantoin and oats.

Best Picks:

Related: Common Antioxidants In Skincare Products

the ordinary salicylic acid 2 solution

5. Exfoliate With Salicylic Acid To Soothe Irritations

I’m a huge fan of exfoliation. Once you get those dead cells off your skin, your face is softer. Your complexion’s brighter. Your pores get smaller. Your wrinkles and dark spots slowly fade away.

If you’ve got rosacea, the best exfoliant for you is salicylic acid. This oil-soluble exfoliant has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and sooth rosacea.

Whatever you do, avoid scrubs. They’re too irritating for you.

Best picks:

6. Add Azelaic Acid To Your Skincare Routine To Tone Down Redness

If you’ve tried everything to no avail, it’s time to add Azelaic Acid to your skincare routine. An acid made by the healthy bacteria in your skin, it has anti-inflammatory properties that tone down redness and irritation.

Studies show that 15% Azelaic Acid significantly decreases erythema and inflamed lesions in 6 months. Nothing works overnight, ladies! But, you can speed up healing by using it with antibiotics.

In skincare products, you’ll find lower concentrations (10%). They still work, just more slowly.

FYI, there’s a reason so few OTC products use Azelaic Acid. It works, but it has a very unpleasant texture. Don’t say I haven’t warned you…

Best Picks:

Related: The Complete Guide To Azelaic Acid In Skincare: What It Is, What It Does, And How To Use It

lemons in skincare

7. Avoid Irritating Ingredients That Give You Flare-Ups

I already told you about alcohol and witch hazel. But they’re not the only irritating ingredients lurking in your cosmetics.

Here are a few more to be on the lookout for:

  • Alcohol
  • Essential oils
  • Fragrance
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Menthol
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Witch hazel

Hint: if it smells good, it’ll likely give you a flare-up.

Related: Is Fragrance In Skincare As Bad As Paula Begoun Says?

8. Avoid Common Rosacea Triggers To Prevent Flare-Ups

This may be obvious but… the best rosacea treatment is to avoid anything that gives you rosacea in the first place!

Common rosacea triggers include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cold weather
  • Hot beverages
  • Spicy foods
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Stress
  • Warm baths

9. Use Anti-Rosacea Medication To Treat Flare-Ups

Preventing flare-ups is all well and good but what happens when your skin is in the middle of a rosacea episode?

The best rosacea treatment in this case is prescription medication like Finacea, Renovax, Novacet, MetroGel, Metronidazole and Accutane.

Only a doctor can prescribe them. Make that appointment.

What’s the best rosacea treatment for you? Share your experience in the comments below.

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26 comments

Kiss & Make-up November 5, 2013 - 3:12 pm

This is good to know. My boyfriend actually suffers from this, in a mild form.

beautifulwithbrains November 5, 2013 - 8:08 pm

Kiss & Make-up, I’m sorry to hear that. I hope these tips will help him.

xin November 6, 2013 - 7:46 am

i had a friend who suffered from this during high school, we didn’t quite understand what it was back then. >< haven't seen her for more than 10 years, i hope she has found a treatment by now 😀

beautifulwithbrains November 6, 2013 - 9:58 pm

Xin, it’s awful to have a problem but not know what it is and what to do about it, isn’t it? I hope she’s found a treatment for it too. 🙂

Mylanqolia November 6, 2013 - 6:18 pm

That’s very well-written and informative. I have Rosacea in the cheek area. Fortunately, it isn’t in a progressed state. Although it’s forbidden to eat spicy food I allow myself eating them, which oddly enough, doesn’t cause any breakouts. But I’ve noticed that my skin goes bonkers (i.e. my cheeks turn red and bumpy) when I eat too much sugar and my hormonal balance changes before my menses starts. Thank God, I can conceal my tomato cheeks with make up and blusher. That’s why I love make up, hehe. 🙂

beautifulwithbrains November 6, 2013 - 7:45 pm

Mylanqolia, makeup is amazing, isn’t it? I think it’s ok to stray every now and then. We’re all humans after all. Just as long as we don’t exaggerate to the point that it triggers a bad reaction. 🙂

Janessa November 19, 2013 - 6:25 am

Nope, I don’t fortunately! How to deal with it makeup-wise (since you covered all of how to take care of it skincare-wise), try a peachy blush as opposed to pink or more beigey ones to cancel out the redness!

beautifulwithbrains November 19, 2013 - 8:55 pm

Janessa, I’m glad you don’t suffer from rosacea. And thanks for the tip! 🙂

Chrissie Dyson February 19, 2016 - 7:27 pm

I have been using Eucerin ultra sensitive cleanser, Eucerin green tinted day cream with spf 25. I use the Eucerin filler range at night plus the concentrate. This has solved the raised bumps issue. They look like light blotches – this is an improvement! Makeup wise I’ve just started with Bourjois 123 colour correcting foundation and it covers very well and is buildable. Downside is that it is quite a matte finish, but at least it covers. Taken me the best part of a year to discover these. Before that I was using laroche posay which helped a lot with general skin redness but I still had the darker coloured areas which were hard to conceal and weren’t improving. Hope this is helpful for fellow rosacea sufferers with mature skin.

Gio February 20, 2016 - 6:49 pm

Chrissie, thanks a lot for sharing your experience and recommendations. I’m sure others will find it very useful.

Jen May 12, 2018 - 3:15 am

For me, the redness and bumps seem to come more with stress, which can’t always be helped. But a green tint primer helps, as well as a facial spray when my face feels hot during the day when I really need it. Micellar water, too, I’ve found is a very very gentle cleanser to use that doesn’t irritate the skin.

Gio May 19, 2018 - 12:38 pm

Jen, have you tried taking up meditation? It helps a lot with stress. Glad you’ve found some gentle products that works well for you. Thanks for sharing your recommendations.

calyo August 13, 2018 - 10:10 pm

suki skincare really helped calm my blotchy red cheeks especially (but also nose, forehead, chin). I was then able to see the broken capillaries underneath, did one IPL treatment w/ Derm, to lessen them and continued with Suki to keep the now mild rosacea under control (it’s been many years now). Suki products I used for dry rosacea skin: purifying transformative cleanser/masque alternating w/ suki moisture lotion cleanser or image vital C cleanser, suki balancing/clarifying toner, suki nourishing day cream day and suki nourishing oil at night. this is changing now that I’ve got anti-aging to be more concerned with.

Gio August 16, 2018 - 1:43 pm

Calyo, thank so much for your sharing your experience and your recommendations.

Karina October 22, 2018 - 10:02 pm

Hi,
I’ve suffered from Rosacea the last 10 years. I wonder, if there is a link between Rosacea and fungal acne?

Gio October 25, 2018 - 12:42 pm

Karina, in both cases, inflammation plays a big role.

Helen Sarsfield March 2, 2019 - 5:43 am

I have been researching this for quite some time. I had tried all the usually recommended gentle treatments etc. Then I discovered in a dermatology journal that Rosacea is caused by over-proliferation of the demodex mites which are found in skin follicles. The ONLY thing that seems to kill and control these mites is Azelaic acid (Fenicea is one prescription form of this) or Tea Tree Oil. As Tea Tree oil makes my eyes water I decided to try the Azelaic acid. I discovered that The Ordinary do Azelaic acid suspension cream, and omgosh it was the first thing that ever worked. I then tried the Jan Marini Skin Management System for dry skin which also incorporates Glycolic and Azelaic acids amongst other things. I saw a huge improvement within a week. The Glycolic acid exfoliates so that the other products can be better absorbed. It is pricey but the pack does last me about 3 months or more. I order online as much cheaper than in salons. I only use a pea sized amount of each product at a time. I recently added in the new Jan Marini Rosalieve, which contains more Azelaic acid and 3 months later my skin is now clear of itchy rosacea bumps and is glowing. Start slow and add in the new products one at a time. Be prepared for slight peeling at first, but very minor. I saw a HUGE improvement in just a few days. The other thing to remember is that Demodex mites thrive on oil. So any products containing oil will literally feed them. The Jan Marini creams seem to be fine with my skin, but so are other oil free moisturisers. I do have some slight residual diffuse redness and broken capillaries but intend to have IPL to help with these. Be aware that some redness and inflammation may be caused malassezia yeast. Adding a few drops of Tea Tree oil to face wash, or washing face with ketoconazole shampoo will kill this yeast. I hope this info helps someone. 🙂

Gio March 8, 2019 - 3:27 pm

Helen, thanks so much for sharing your experience, it’s so helpful. So glad you’ve found something that works for you. Azelaic acid is a miracle worker, isn’t it?

Heather April 7, 2019 - 2:18 am

I have rosacea that was flaring up after using an expensive rosacea serum of dermalmd for a year. Within a week, I saw a significant improvement in redness and blood vessel appearance. This works as well, if not better than the $150 prescription I was using.

Gio April 12, 2019 - 3:37 pm

Heather, glad to hear you’ve found something that works so well for you.

Julia Vasconcellos August 29, 2019 - 11:12 pm

Isn’t lactic acid a better choice for exfoliation?

Gio October 5, 2019 - 5:25 pm

Julia, I prefer salicylic acid because it has anti-inflammatory properties. But lactic acid is a good second option.

Inga December 8, 2019 - 12:18 pm

Thank you for your blog, it has been very helpful.
The question i have is about using retinol and Niacinamide on rosacea. I alternate them daily and it seems my read vassals around nose and the chin have become more pronounced.
I wonder which of those – retinol or Niacinamide would be a likely cause, any suggestions?
I use ordinary products-
Retinol squelance
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Thank you!

Gio December 20, 2019 - 4:08 pm

Inga, retinol is the most likely cause because it’s the harshest. The best thing to do is to stop both for a few days. Then reintroduce Niacinamide and see how your skin reacts.

RR February 15, 2020 - 2:16 pm

I have Rosacea / adult acne. I use Aczone, Finacea, Deunk elephant CFirma and Cerave AM moisturizer in the morning. For night time I use Aczone, Tretinoin, Cerave PM moisturizer. It seems to be working fine for me. But I never stopped breaking out when it’s humid outside or my hair become oily or during my periods. I keep wondering if I have to use these medications through out my life. Among all these I feel like Finacea is the active fighter. Do I need to add Aha and Bhas to my routine too? Should I use them before or after tretinoin ? Your article gave me a hope. Thanks a lot 🙏

Gio March 6, 2020 - 3:42 pm

RR, I wouldn’t add any BHA or AHA. You’re already using Azelaic acid and Tretinoin, which already speed up cellular turnover. More exfoliation can make skin worse.

Comments are closed.