While medical therapy is an essential weapon in the battle against rosacea, identifying and avoiding the right lifestyle and environmental factors that may aggravate the disorder can be a critical tactic to include in the arsenal. In National Rosacea Society (NRS) surveys of patients who pinpointed and steered clear of their personal rosacea triggers, more than 90 percent reported that this had reduced their rosacea flare-ups.
"In managing rosacea, it's important for patients to know they do not have to avoid every potential trigger, because what may cause a flare-up in one person may not affect another," said Dr. Lisa Maier, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan, during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. "The key is to identify and avoid those specific factors that affect their individual cases."
Although the array of potential rosacea triggers may be endless, some of the factors most commonly identified by rosacea patients include sun exposure (affecting 81 percent), emotional stress (affecting 79 percent), hot weather (75 percent), wind (57 percent), heavy exercise (56 percent), alcohol (52 percent) and spicy foods (45 percent). Other common triggers include humidity, indoor heat, heated beverages and certain skin-care and cosmetics products.
To help patients identify factors that affect their individual cases, the NRS offers a "Rosacea Diary." 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 time, patients may identify what to avoid in their particular case.
A new smartphone app is now available free at online app stores to help rosacea patients better manage their condition. The rosacea app acts as a personal journal with a "trigger tracker" section to identify triggers, and includes a "substitution finder" that suggests alternate foods and drinks.
Patients can also look for ways to minimize unavoidable triggers, such as sun exposure and humidity. For instance, a broad-brimmed hat can shield the face, and rosacea patients are advised to use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher the year round. In addition, outdoor activities can be scheduled early in the day when the air is cooler and before the sun reaches its peak. A misting fan or a cool, wet cloth draped around the neck also may help to beat the heat.
"Rosacea doesn't have to take all of the enjoyment out of life," Dr. Maier said. "Rosacea can be successfully managed by adhering to medical therapy and making the right lifestyle adjustments on an individual basis."