Sensitive facial skin has been widely observed as one of the most common features of rosacea. Fortunately, however, this problem can be minimized with medical treatment, special precautions in facial care and avoidance of skin-care products that may cause irritation.
"Rosacea sufferers are highly prone to facial discomfort -- such as burning, itching and stinging -- and this can make it especially challenging to care for the face," said Dr. Jerome Z. Litt, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University. "While medical therapy can help, it is also important to adjust your cleansing methods and skin-care products in order to find what's right for you." He noted that, in many cases, facial irritation may be exacerbated or even caused by skin-care products themselves.
"Before using any skin-care products, choose them carefully by checking the labels," Dr. Litt added. "Avoid those with ingredients or preservatives that can be irritating. Try fragrance-free products that are gentle, and don't apply excessive amounts." In a National Rosacea Society survey, the following ingredients were most frequently cited by rosacea patients as causing irritation: alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus oil, clove oil and salicylic acid. Most survey respondents also said they avoided astringents, exfoliating agents and other types of products that may be too harsh for sensitive skin.
"Rosacea patients should also look for water-based moisturizers and cosmetics," Dr. Litt said. "To reduce the number of products you use on your face, look for a makeup with sunscreen already added." Men can use an electric shaver rather than a blade to minimize abrasion, and should avoid using shaving creams or gels that contain potentially irritating substances. Men should also be cautious using aftershave lotions, especially those containing alcohol.
"Whether you have sensitive skin or not, immediately stop using any skin-care product that stings, burns or causes redness," Dr. Litt said.