While the warmer months are known to be difficult for many rosacea sufferers, wintertime poses its own challenges, and more than a third of rosacea patients have said it's the hardest season of the year.
The cold weather outside can aggravate symptoms in many patients, especially those with ocular symptoms. Cold and gusty winds make eyes water and cheeks chap. In a survey of 683 rosacea sufferers on weather-related tripwires, 88 percent of the respondents in areas with severe weather said outdoor activities during cold periods worsened their rosacea, and nearly half of the respondents even in areas with mild weather reported that outdoor activity during the cooler months had caused flare-ups.
On the other hand, even being indoors in cold weather can be just as problematic for rosacea sufferers. Dry air and overheated rooms cause sensitive skin to become irritated, and extra heavy clothing make keeping cool a challenge.
Here are some tips for minimizing flare-ups this time of year:
Protect yourself from wind. Exposure to wind was cited as the most common seasonal factor likely to aggravate rosacea, affecting 88 percent of all survey respondents -- including those living in mild and moderate climates. Minimize its effects by wearing a scarf or ski mask when you go outside.
Use a sunscreen year round. Sun exposure is the most common rosacea tripwire, and can affect the face even in winter. Use a non-chemical sunscreen that contains zinc or titanium dioxide and offers UVA/UVB protection with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Dress in layers. Choose loose, layered clothing that provides warmth while being easy to put on or take off in varying indoor and outdoor temperatures.
Watch out for food triggers. Chili, soup and hot cocoa are tempting winter warmers, but be careful. Both spicy and thermally hot foods are common tripwires for flare-ups, as are alcohol and heated beverages. Let food and drinks cool off before consuming.
Take care of yourself. Be sure to continue using rosacea medication consistently, as prescribed by your doctor, even if your skin care routine changes in the winter. Apply moisturizer to help maintain the skin's moisture barrier in dry environments.
Photo courtest of Onno Kluyt of Flickr.