While most rosacea patients know the importance of following their doctor's orders when it comes to daily medication, another critical component of effective rosacea management is often overlooked: an appropriate facial cleansing routine. Dr. Jonathan Wilkin, chairman of the National Rosacea Society's medical advisory board, advises that people with rosacea should always try to avoid irritation, which may be considered the cornerstone of appropriate facial care for rosacea patients. "The key is to avoid anything that burns, stings or irritates your face," he emphasized.
He noted that patients should use water that is lukewarm when washing their faces, as hot and cold water can cause flushing. Dr. Wilkin also urged patients to use their fingertips, rather than a washcloth or sponge, to avoid abrasion, and gently blot their face dry with a thick-pile towel without pulling or tugging.
"Each person with rosacea generally has individual sensitivities, and it is advisable for them to keep making adjustments until they find what works best for them," he said.
For example, after gently drying the face, a new patient may initially wait 30 minutes before applying prescribed topical medication to avoid any stinging or burning that may be associated with wet skin. Then the 30-minute wait time may be reduced by five-minute increments with each application to determine the minimal drying time needed to avoid discomfort in their individual case. Dr. Wilkin also suggested that patients wait an additional five to 10 minutes after applying medication before adding a sunscreen or using cosmetics.
Patients should also read the labels of cosmetic or skin-care products and steer clear of those containing ingredients known to irritate their individual conditions. In addition, men can use an electric shaver to avoid the irritation of a dull blade and should avoid any shaving creams or lotions that cause burning or stinging.
Because rosacea skin may be particularly sensitive to sun exposure, a common trigger for flare-ups, sun-screens or sunblocks effective against the full spectrum of ultraviolet A and B rays can be especially important.
"Rosacea patients should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and make sure the label indicates that it is effective against both UVA and UVB rays," said Dr. Zoe Draelos, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University.