What Can I Put on My Skin to Calm Down My Rosacea?

Updated July 20, 2017

Rosacea is a skin disease that makes your face appear red and swollen. It might start as simple blushing, but over time can include ongoing redness, visible blood vessels and pimples. Skin can also become dry, bumps on the nose can develop, and all of this can include itching, burning or stinging. A variety of topical medications are available from a dermatologist to soothe the symptoms. A good skin care regimen can help, too.

Topical Treatments

Before prescribing a topical treatment for rosacea, a doctor must diagnose the subtype. The four subtypes along with usual topical treatments include:

Erythematotelangiectatic type rosacea causes redness, flushing and visible blood vessels. Calming this subtype starts with sunscreen (because the skin is very sun sensitive) as well as a cream called a barrier-repair emollient. After symptoms are under control, the dermatologist may prescribe azelaic acid, metronidazole, retinoid or sodium sulfacetamide and sulphur.

Papulopustular rosacea causes bumps and lesions that might contain pus. A topical antibiotic may be prescribed such as clindamycin, metronidazole or erythromycin. Other medications may include azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, retinoid, sulfacetamide or sulphur lotions. A dermatologist may also suggest glycolic acid peels followed by glycolic acid washes and creams at home.

The other two types of rosacea, phymatous rosacea (thickened skin) and ocular rosacea (affects the eyes), don't include a regimen of topical treatments, but good eyelid hygiene, including gently washing the lids several times a day, can help.

At Home

A good skin care regimen can make a huge difference in calming the effects of rosacea. The key is to be gentle. Avoid scrubbing, rubbing or using harsh products because the skin is extremely fragile and very easy to irritate. Even a regular washcloth may be too rough for rosacea. Fingertips are a better choice.

Always use lukewarm water and fragrance-free cleansers, and rinse thoroughly but gently. Choose a soft cotton towel to lightly pat the water away.

After cleaning your face, wait at least 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes for the skin to become totally dry because any topical medication may sting when the skin is still wet and absorbent. If the dermatologist has prescribed a medication, put that on before applying sunscreen, barrier-repair cream or cosmetics. Wait up to 10 minutes between each product application.

Barrier-repair products are particularly helpful to calm rosacea because they offer moisture and they prevent the loss of moisture from skin. Also, because sun exposure can cause rosacea to flare up, consistent sunscreen use is vital. Skip the sunscreens that contain fragrances or alcohol and be sure to use one that has an SPF of 30 or higher.

The American Academy of Dermatology points out that in addition to topical treatments, a host of other treatments, such as light and laser therapies, are available to help soothe the symptoms of rosacea.

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About the Author

Lynn Yoffee is a health and medical science journalist who has covered a wide range of medical topics and the business that drives health care for Medical Device Daily, and She has a Bachelor of Science in communications from University of Tennessee and started writing 1984.