In addition to complying with medical therapy, an important part of managing rosacea for many patients is to identify and avoid environmental and lifestyle factors that may trigger or aggravate their individual conditions.
"In essence, rosacea patients can often benefit by playing the role of detective, examining suspects and evidence carefully to determine the culprits that are responsible for a rosacea flare-up," said Dr. John Wolf, chairman of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine. In a survey of 1,066 rosacea patients conducted by the National Rosacea Society (NRS), some of the most common triggers included sun exposure, emotional stress, hot or cold weather, wind, heavy exercise, humidity, alcohol and spicy foods.
"It must be remembered, however, that what affects one individual may not affect another," Dr. Wolf said. To help patients identify those factors that affect their personal condition, the NRS offers members a "Rosacea Diary" booklet to help keep track of the most common things that may trigger a flare-up of signs and symptoms.
The diary guides patients on a daily basis to observe and record weather conditions, foods and beverages consumed, lifestyle factors such as strenuous exercise, products used on the face, compliance with medical therapy and the occurrence of any flare-ups. By keeping track for a period of two weeks, or at least on the days when a flare-up occurs, patients may identify which culprits to avoid.
For example, if sun exposure triggers rosacea flare-ups, patients can minimize outdoor exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest. A broad-brimmed hat can be used to shield the face, and all rosacea patients are advised to apply a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher all year-round.
In NRS surveys of patients who identified and avoided personal rosacea triggers, more than 90 percent reported their condition had improved.
For tips on how to minimize or eliminate the most common rosacea triggers, the NRS also offers the free booklet, "Coping with Rosacea."