Though rosacea's signs and symptoms may often be unpredictable and frustrating, three basic practices - adherence to medical therapy, avoiding triggers and gentle skin care - can help bring it under control on a long-term basis.
"Patients must first make a strong commitment to long-term medical therapy," said Dr. Boni Elewski, vice chair of dermatology at the University of Alabama - Birmingham.
Clinical research has shown that patients who continue to use their prescribed medical therapy are substantially less likely to experience a recurrence of symptoms. In a study of rosacea patients over a six-month period, 77 percent of those who complied with long-term therapy remained in remission, while 42 percent of patients without therapy experienced a relapse.1
Another important measure for maintaining remission is to identify and avoid environmental and lifestyle factors that aggravate the condition. In NRS surveys, as many as 90 percent of patients who have avoided their rosacea triggers reported that this had helped reduce the occurrence of flare-ups.
Most of these factors are related to flushing, and some of the most common triggers include sun exposure, emotional stress, heavy exercise and alcohol consumption. However, what affects one rosacea patient may not affect another.
To help identify those factors that affect your individual condition, the NRS provides a "Rosacea Diary" booklet to help patients keep track of common rosacea triggers they may experience and then match them to any flare-ups of signs and symptoms.
"Especially because rosacea patients often have skin that is sensitive and easily irritated, a gentle skin care regimen may be another important step in preventing flare-ups," Dr. Elewski said.2
Patients should select cleansers and skin care products that are non-irritating, she said, and avoid abrasive materials such as a rough washcloth or loofah. She advises using lukewarm water, not hot or cold, and blotting the face dry with a soft towel, taking care not to rub or pull the facial skin.
Patients should wait an initial 30 minutes before applying prescribed topical medication to avoid any stinging or burning that may be associated with wet skin. This waiting time may be reduced by five-minute increments with each application to determine the minimal drying time needed to avoid discomfort in an individual case.
- Dahl MV, Katz I, Krueger GG, et al. Topical metronidazole maintains remissions of rosacea. Archives of Dermatology. 1998;134: 679-683.
- Powell FC. Rosacea. New England Journal of Medicine. 2005;352:793-803.