10 Rosacea Triggers and Treatment Options

10 Rosacea Triggers and Treatment Options I Mirra Skincare

When it comes to rosacea, not every case is the same. Not only are there four types of rosacea, but there are up to 10 different types of rosacea triggers that can cause different flare-up symptoms and require unique treatment options depending on the case. To help identify what might be causing a flare-up, here are the 10 most common rosacea triggers and how to prevent them.


1. What is rosacea?

2. What can trigger rosacea flare-ups?

3. Treatment options and flare-up prevention

Key Points 

  • Rosacea is a common skin condition that manifests as blushing or flushing of the face that can resemble a sunburn – but it can flare up depending on certain factors.
  • There are four different types of rosacea that can affect different aspects of the body and can cause various symptoms during a flare-up.
  • Some common rosacea triggers include excess sun exposure, overheating, irritating products, alcohol, and spicy foods. 

What is rosacea? 

Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects up to 16 million people in the United States. The condition is unique as it manifests as blushing or flushing of the face that can resemble a sunburn – but it can flare up depending on certain factors. 

Although rosacea shows visibly as blushing, it’s not as simple as it seems. In other words, just because someone gets a reddish glow on their face after a slightly embarrassing moment definitely does not mean they have rosacea. Rather, rosacea is a long-term condition and rosacea triggers can be brought on by a multitude of things such as heat or stress. Plus, rosacea can color more than just the cheeks. Redness from rosacea can spread to areas such as the: 

  • Cheeks
  • Nose
  • Forehead
  • Chin
  • Ears
  • Chest
  • Scalp
  • Back 

There are four main types of rosacea – but keep in mind that those with rosacea can experience symptoms of more than just one type. The four types of rosacea include: 

1. Erythematotelangietctatic Rosacea

This form of rosacea is characterized by persistent redness of the face, the visible appearance of blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface, and blood vessels showing enlargement under the skin. Unlike some other forms of rosacea, these symptoms are said to often flare up and then go away within a short period of time. However, without treatment, redness can last longer, spread to more areas of the skin, and in some cases can even become permanent. 

2. Papulopustular Rosacea

A common symptom associated with papulopustular rosacea can be inferred from the name as whiteheads known as pustules can appear on the cheeks, chin, scalp, neck, chest, and forehead. The pustules are pus-filled blemishes that look like red and swollen bumps, which is why it is so often confused or mistaken for acne.

3. Phymatous Rosacea

Phymatous rosacea is a unique form of rosacea in the way that it causes the skin to thicken and scar, which can give the skin a bumpy, swollen, and sometimes discolored appearance. Most commonly, these symptoms manifest on the nose, causing the nose to look bulbous. While this form of rosacea is rare, it certainly is still treatable.

4. Ocular Rosacea

Again, this is another form of rosacea that comes with symptoms that can be inferred from the name. In this case, ocular = eyes. Patients with ocular rosacea often have bloodshot or watery eyes that can sometimes be associated with burning or irritation of the eyes, persistently dry eyes, sensitive eyes, and cysts that can form on the eyelids.

What can trigger rosacea flare-ups? 

Since the skin is much more sensitive with rosacea, there are numerous rosacea triggers that can contribute to flare-ups. Determining which one of the specific rosacea triggers is affecting you will be essential in helping a physician choose a treatment option that’s most effective in controlling the symptoms. Common rosacea triggers include:

  1. Spending too much time in the sun
  2. Heat/overheating
  3. Irritating skin, haircare, or makeup products
  4. Hairspray
  5. Stress and anxiety
  6. Alcohol
  7. Spicy foods
  8. Exercise
  9. Wind and cold
  10. Some medications 

Treatment options and flare-up prevention 

Treatment for rosacea in order to control the symptoms will depend on a variety of factors once you speak with a healthcare provider. For instance, a physician will take multiple things into consideration such as your age, overall health, medical history, the severity of rosacea, and the type of rosacea you’re displaying. 

The most common forms of treatment that are recommended are: 

  • Diet changes that involve avoiding food that can cause the skin’s blood vessels to become enlarged – this includes caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol.
  • Topical and oral antibiotics
  • Glycolic acid peels
  • Dermabrasion
  • Electrosurgery 
  • Prescription topical creams or lotions like emollient cream
  • Laser and light therapy for visible blood vessels 
  • Brimonidine gel to help the blood vessels smaller, reduce blood flow to the face, and decrease redness

To further prevent flare-ups, you can help manage the rosacea by: 

  • Tracking your flare-ups to identify potential rosacea triggers
  • Always using SPF to protect the skin from UV rays
  • Avoiding excess sun exposure by wearing hats, staying out of the heat/sun, or sitting in the shade
  • Avoiding overheating by staying away from hot showers, heat sources, crowded places for a long period of time, and keeping cool while exercising
  • Staying away from spicy foods, hot beverages, and alcohol – especially red wine. Alcohol dilates (which means to make larger) the blood vessels in the face which causes the flush. Alcohol in skincare products should also be avoided 
  • Reducing stress any way you can by focusing more on self-care and relaxing 
  • Avoiding irritating skincare, haircare, and makeup products and choosing the best products for rosacea
  • Checking your medication to see if it could be one of your rosacea triggers
  • Covering the face or limiting time outdoors in the cold to avoid windburn (7)
  • Performing patch tests with new products to ensure they do not irritate the skin before using on the face
  • Following allowing with treatment regularly (4)

Written by Selena Ponton


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  1. https://www.aad.org/media/stats-numbers
  2. https://nyulangone.org/conditions/rosacea/types
  3. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/rosacea/triggers/find
  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/rosacea
  5. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-mystery-triggers-causing-your-rosacea-flare-ups/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279475/
  7. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/rosacea/triggers/prevent

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