You've consulted with a dermatologist and learned that the signs and symptoms you've been experiencing are in fact a recognized and treatable medical disorder called rosacea. It's a huge relief to finally know what it is and get it under countrol.
But the initial visit with your doctor is just the beginning. Even though your symptoms may already be improving, to keep rosacea at bay it's critical to take the next step: become a partner with your physician in managing your condition.
Follow your doctor's advice.
Rosacea can't be cured, but its symptoms can be reduced or sent into remission through medical therapy and lifestyle changes. Your physician will work with you to determine the treatment regimen that works best in your individual case. It’s important to use any prescription as directed, and to meet with your doctor regularly so he or she can monitor your progress.
Complying with long-term medical therapy can seem like a demanding commitment, and it may be tempting to stop using a medication if it doesn't work right away -- or to quit as soon as your signs and symptoms improve. However, it usually takes several weeks or even months before the effects of medical therapy are noticeable on your skin, so you may not be allowing enough time for treatment to work. And while it may seem odd to continue treating symptoms that aren't there, rosacea is a chronic disorder characterized by remissions and flare-ups, so sticking with a consistent long-term preventive therapy will help ensure that your condition stays in remission or under control.
Take care of your skin.
In addition to medication, a gentle skin care regimen may also help maintain remission, as many rosacea patients have found that incorporating medical therapy into their daily facial care routine is a painless and efficient way to comply with treatment.
Begin each day with a thorough but gentle facial cleansing. Use a mild cleanser that is not abrasive, and spread it with your fingertips. Avoid using rough wash cloths, brushes or loofahs, as abrasive items can irritate sensitive skin. Rinse your face with lukewarm water, and use a thick cotton towel to blot your face dry without tugging or pulling the skin.
Let your face dry thoroughly before applying any topical medication, moisturizer or makeup. Topical medication may be applied before or after moisturizer -- just be sure to let the skin dry before applying each product.
Repeat the cleansing process at night to remove any makeup or dirt accumulated throughout the day. Air dry and apply your topical medication. See our skin care and cosmetics section for more tips.
Identify and avoid your triggers.
Rosacea triggers are environmental and lifestyle factors that may cause a sufferer to experience a flare-up of signs and symptoms. Here are the most common rosacea trigger factors, according to an NRS survey of 1,066 rosacea patients:
While the list of potential tripwires may at first appear overwhelming, not every rosacea patient will be affected by each one, and what may cause a reaction in one patient may not in another. To help determine your individual rosacea triggers, try keeping a diary that tracks what you ate, weather conditions, stress levels and other factors that might affect your condition. After two or more weeks of daily diary use, review the entries and look for items that seem to coincide with flare-ups and eliminate those factors wherever possible. If eliminating these factors minimizes flare-ups, you have probably identified the key personal trigger factors you should avoid to help keep your rosacea under control. The NRS offers a Rosacea Diary free of charge to members, and you may also find the patient booklets Understanding Rosacea and Coping with Rosacea helpful and informative.
Take care of your mental health too.
The potential psychological and social impact of rosacea should not be underestimated or ignored. The conspicuous redness, blemishes and swelling caused by rosacea can take a significant toll on self-confidence and self-esteem, and the uncertainty about when a flare-up might occur can increase stress and anxiety. NRS patient surveys have found that the disorder can affect personal and workplace interactions, cause sufferers to avoid social engagements, and subject them to insensitive questions and stares from strangers.
You can help turn the situation around by taking appropriate action to manage emotional stress, a leading trigger factor. Many patients also find that passing information about rosacea on to family, friends, acquaintances and co-workers both reduces awkwardness and boosts confidence. And fortunately, the majority of rosacea patients surveyed have reported that their emotional and social well-being improved once their condition was effectively under control.
Millions of people suffer from rosacea, yet increasing numbers have achieved substantial control over their disorder. The best defense in conquering rosacea is to comply with long-term medical therapy and minimize lifestyle and environmental factors that aggravate your individual condition. Through these strategies, rosacea can be managed successfully.