While cold blustery weather and ever-advancing age can make dry skin a menace for rosacea patients, medical therapy and careful skin care can help manage and control this problem, according to Dr. Doris Day, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University.
"Winter often poses a challenge for individuals with rosacea when dry air — both outdoors as well as in buildings that are warmed with a dry heat — intensifies the challenge to already-sensitive skin," Dr. Day said. "Fortunately, appropriate medical therapy and careful attention to gentle and soothing skin care can help make the skin comfortable any time of year."
In addition to being affected by the weather, a survey by the National Rosacea Society documented a tendency for the skin to become increasingly dry as rosacea patients advance in age. While only 6 percent of the respondents in their 30s reported dry skin, this increased to 15 percent among those in their 40s and rose to 22 percent among respondents in their 50s. Twenty-three percent of the patients in their 60s said they had dry skin, and 34 percent reported this condition after age 70.
With treatment, the dryness often eases along with the disappearance of bumps and pimples. To further combat dry, flaky skin, rosacea patients may use a moisturizer daily after cleansing and applying medication. Patients are also advised to check with their dermatologist to see which skin- care products may be best suited for their individual cases.
Gentle cleansing is extremely important for skin with rosacea, Dr. Day noted. Twice-daily cleansing removes excess oil, environmental debris, bacteria and other microorganisms, as well as the residue from skin-care and makeup products. For very dry skin, a creamy, low-foaming non-soap, fragrance-free cleanser may be ideal, as these types of formulas often leave behind a thin film that helps skin hold moisture, she said.
"Immediately after cleansing, let your face air dry, and then follow with your topical medication and allow it to dry," Dr. Day said. After that, moisturizer or makeup may be applied without interfering with the effectiveness of medical therapy.
"Individuals with rosacea should use a scarf to protect the face from the drying effects of the wind and the cold when outdoors; however, wool scarves may irritate the skin and exacerbate the condition. It's also important not to forget about the impact of indoor temperature, especially the dry heat of the furnace or fireplace," she said. "This can be remedied by keeping the temperature down and using a humidifier when necessary."