Tips to Manage and Improve Rosacea

A gift set of our most popular RosaceaHerbal products.

As we have discussed in earlier posts, rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the face. Any kind of heat will make the symptoms worse, so when trying to manage your rosacea, it will be vital to avoid all external and internal sources of heat.  The following is a list of things to avoid that make the symptoms of rosacea worse, followed by a list of things you should do (or do more often) to help improve symptoms and slow the progression of your rosacea.  If you have some tips that have been helpful for you and you don’t see them in this post, please share with us by leaving a comment below.

Things To Reduce or Avoid:

  • Reduce all triggers of flushing and blushing.  Things that commonly cause flushing or blushing  include: emotional factors such as anger or embarrassment, stress, heat (sources detailed below), and physical over-exertion.  Biofeedback can very helpful to manage your emotional reactions and reduce your body’s negative responses to stress.
  • Reduce exposure to things that heat your face or raise your body temperature.  As best you can, avoid sunlight, over-exertion, hot climates, exercising in hot temperatures (this includes those hot yoga classes that you might really enjoy), hot showers/baths, steam baths, hot tubs, and drinks and foods that are hot in temperature (tea, coffee, soup).  Though I often recommend facial steams as part of a good beauty routine, people who have rosacea should not stick their faces over a pot of steaming water; the benefits do not outweigh the risks of vasodilation.
  • Reduce intake of substances that cause accumulation of internal Heat.  Avoid spicy foods, dairy, fried foods, alcohol, and smoking.  These things can also cause direct flushing of the face, so there is more than one reason to avoid them.
  • Stop Smoking and avoid alcohol.  I know I just listed these two things, but it is worth repeating.
  • Avoid chemical irritants.  Avoid harsh cleansers, cheap cosmetics and lotions or moisturizers with too many chemical ingredients.  Make your own gentle facial scrub from simple, natural ingredients.
  • Avoid physical irritants.  Reduce the friction on the delicate skin of your face.  Be gentle when cleansing: don’t scrub too often or too roughly and don’t use pre-made scrubs that are too abrasive.  Dry your face by gently patting it with a soft towel; don’t rub it dry or use a rough paper towel.
  • Keep skin clean to avoid secondary bacterial infection, esp. of the nose.
  • Reduce direct face contact with pets.  Though Demodex mites in humans are thought to possibly have a correlation to the development of rosacea, they have not been proven to be an actual cause.  Additionally, it is rare for the species of Demodex mite found on dogs to be transmitted to humans.  Nevertheless, don’t rub your face on your pets or let them sleep in your bed.  They have lots of bacteria (and who know what else!) on their fur, so you should keep your sensitive facial skin away from them.
  • Reduce your consumption of foods that cause inflammation, such as polyunsaturated vegetable oils (like safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy oils), wheat/gluten, sugars, and simple carbohydrates.  Do your best to eat more foods that have anti-inflammatory affects.

Things To Do To Improve Rosacea:

  • Wear sunscreen to avoid getting sunburn.

    Internal Chinese herb formulas can really help rosacea. Click photo to find a TCM specialist near you.

  • Use an apple cider vinegar toner.  Apple cider vinegar is your face’s friend – it helps restore the acidity to the acid mantle.  This acid mantle is the thin, slightly acidic film on the surface of your skin that helps reduce the over-proliferation of bacteria.  This will reduce the pustules and papules (blemishes) that can develop as rosacea progresses.  Make your own toner or purchase our herbal toner formulated specifically for skin suffering from rosacea.  Apply the toner to a dry face after cleansing.
  • Apply cool compresses or cooling clay masks.  Cool compresses (especially with herbs) can reduce the sensation of heat and may help minimize erythema.  Use our facial teas formulated specifically for rosacea or make your own chamomile tea and let it cool in the refrigerator for an hour.  Dip a cloth in the cool tea and apply to your face.  Do this daily or after exercise/exertion to reduce the heat in your face.  A weekly mask of cosmetic clay can help sooth skin and draw out toxins (very useful when there are pustules and papules).  Because I actually have rosacea, I formulated wonderful clay & herb facial masks with Chinese herbs that I find more soothing and effective than clay alone.  To learn more about how to use them read this beauty routine post.
  • Take a Vitamin A supplement: Up to 10,000 IU daily is safe to take on your own until skin improves.  Consult with your dermatologist or regular doctor if you want to take more than that (some sources suggest 50,000 IU of Vit A is useful for rosacea if taken for a short period).  Then reduce to 5,000 IU daily.  Caution: if you are pregnant, you should consult your healthcare provider before you take any Vitamin A supplementation.
  • Take a Vitamin D3 supplement.  While some people are actually deficient in Vitamin D (blood tests can reveal this), I believe people with inflammatory conditions should take in more Vit D3 even if they aren’t deficient and this may be especially true for those with rosacea who avoid sun.  Vitamin D is essential for many reasons, including reducing inflammation and minimizing unhealthy levels of harmful bacteria in the body.  Daily recommended dosages are currently being debated.  The current RDA for adults under age 70 is 600 IU (daily) but some health providers recommend taking as much as 2,000 IU to 4,000 IU daily.
  • Take probiotics.  Supplementation with “friendly” bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, or Bifidobacterium bifidus, can be helpful for inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea because they can aid with digestion to reduce the build-up of pathogenic Heat and they may help reduce the amount of pathogenic bacteria in the body that aggravate inflammation.
  • Take a supplement for essential fatty acids (EFAs): fish oil concentrate (3 to 10g daily) or flaxseed oil (1 to 3 tblsp daily) plus Vitamin E (400 IU to 800 IU daily).  Essential fatty acids help reduce inflammation which helps skin stay healthy and reduces inflammation.
  • Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, tuna, sardines, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, winter squash, papaya.  (Click the following links for more foods that reduce inflammation in the body and more tips to reduce inflammation).

Were these tips helpful?  If so, please repost this and share with your friends.  Got more tips to share with us?  We’d love to hear them.  Leave us a comment below.

Tags: acne, beauty, dermatology, Facial care, flushing, herbal skin care, natural skin care, red complexion, red face, rosacea

Topics: Acne, Beauty, Facial Care, Herbs for Skin Care, Rosacea

Publish Date: August 4, 2011     *Articles may include updates since original publishing.

About the Author ()

Diana Hermann is a licensed acupuncturist and board certified in Chinese Herbal Medicine. She received her Master Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR and trained in China at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Diana treats patients in her Fort Collins, Colorado clinic and hand crafts herbal skin care products for her company Zi Zai Dermatology. In 2015, she completed the Diploma In Chinese Medicine Dermatology program from Avicenna in London, UK.

Comments (21)

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  1. Michelle LaBorde says:

    This is such amazing information. Thank you so much! I’m bummed about the hot yoga part though as I feel like hot yoga has been very healing for me physically in alot of ways. Perhaps in moderation? 3x per week?

  2. Well, I would love to tell you otherwise, but I am not a fan of hot yoga if one has rosacea. I practice Ashtanga yoga (it can get hot in those rooms, too, but not quite as hot as Bikram). I think I am pushing the limits of what my face will tolerate, but the overall health benefits outweigh any worsening of my rosacea. Monitor your condition so you can decide for yourself what is best for you. Let us know how it goes!

    • Aq says:

      Yoga seems to trigger my rosecea – even though I had been practicing yoga for a couple of years before I was diagnosed with rosecea. Have stopped doing yoga for the past year as I felt that it was really aggravating my condition. But now I’m really missing it! Would like to go back to it – any tips on how I could mitigate the inflammation it seems to be causing?

      • Often in rosacea any physical exertion that causes the body temp to rise will trigger flushing of the face. I receommend two things to combat this during yoga: 1. Avoid the hot yogas (where they heat the room)
        2. Take internal Chinese herbs form a TCM practitioner. See our referral list here.

      • Catalina says:

        I’ve had Rosacea all my life but thought it was acne….I started using Obagi Rosaclear 4 years ago..after 6 weeks my face was totally clear. I was so happy and I was at the gym 6 days a week and took yoga also which, helped a lot so I encourage all of those suffering from this skin disease to use products, which work for you….Blessings

        • Abby says:

          Did it trigger back again later on? Are you still using rosaclear cleanser? I’m just diagnosed with rosacea and I thought it was acne too..

  3. Becky says:

    What about swimming? (in a pool) It’s the best form of exercise for me, as I have post thrombotic syndrome. (and rosacea, yay! not.)

    • I think swimming is great. Any activity that raises body temp is going to temporarily exacerbate the redness of rosacea, but as long as it isn’t sustained for hours and hours on end, it shouldn’t be a huge problem. I would be more concerned with the chlorine damaging your skin – make sure you rinse off very well immediately after each session in the pool.

  4. Alex V says:

    I recently started using Made from Earth’s Rosehip Hibiscus Serum based on my dermatologist’s recommendation. The serum is great and hydrates my skin. I have rosacea and my skin tends to be extremely dry, but since using these products, I find my skin is very well hydrated and does not irritate my rosacea.

    • Seems like a decent formulation. Glad it helps you. Some people may have minor irritation to the emulsifying wax (not a natural wax) but if you have no problem, keep using it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jeanette Ward says:

    I never experienced the flushing, blushing or reddness part of rosacea, but instead went straight to the papules and pustules (I still don’t have the stage 1 stuff). This has made it dificult to pinpoint triggers because I don’t turn red immediately and think that maybe days pass between a trigger and a bump. Any experience with or thoughts on this?

    • Were you diagnosed with rosacea? Not sure how old you are, but it could be acne, which can develop in adults even if you never had acne as a teenager. A couple ways to differentiate between rosacea and acne: The “pimples” of acne are typically comedones – plugged skin pores. They can be “blackheads” which are open pores or they can be “whiteheads” which are closed comedones (they are covered with a thin layer of skin). In rosacea you can get papules that are not plugged pores. This can get confusing because you can get whiteheads in rosacea, too. In rosacea, there often is the flushing of the face and there will likely be telangiectasia – dilated capillaries. Do you have any telangiectasia? Regardless, the clay & herb mask and the AcneHerbal Facial Mask will both help you get those papules and pustules under control, though the AcneHerbal Mask is a bit better for nodules.

      • Jeanette Ward says:

        I’m 43 (and experienced my first flare in April of this year) and I was diagnosed with rosacea, but again, never experienced the flushing or telangiectasia – I went straight to papules. My face does sting and itch when I experience a flare, but mainly I just started breaking out with papules and they never seem to go away completely. I tried the traditional derm route (antibiotics, Metrogel) and got some results at first, but then the paps kept coming back. I’m still using metrogel, zinc oxide (it seems to keep the papules small), your face mask (Rosacea Herbal 2), and I’m taking chinese herbs prescribed to me by a local (Austin, Tx) TCM. I’ve only been drinking the herbs and using the masc for two weeks now. He is trying to remove the heat from my blood and changed the mixture the second week to account for my hormones. I’m incredibly frustrated (partially because the list of rosacea don’ts includes every single thing that that brings me happiness in life 🙁 Again, just curious if you had seen a case like mine. Thanks. I do enjoy the face mask (I’ve used it 2x’s so far 🙂

  6. Audrey Sallese says:

    I am a 3-year survivor of acute myeloid leukemia and a stem cell tranplant that has left me with chronic graft vs. host diease. It seems something new would come up every week or so, indluding rosacea about 6 months ago. I have dry eyes, and it was recommended that I try TheraTears Nutrition(fish oil-flaxseed oil-Vitamin E) for that, and voila, I have not had a flare-up of rosacea in the 2 months I’ve been taking it. It was great to find the information validating this on your excellent website.

  7. beth says:

    Does the ACV toner ever cause adverse effects?
    Beth

    • Apple cider vinegar can be too strong for some people with sensitive skin or if there are open sores. We dilute the ACV in our toners with distilled water to reduce this likelihood, and for some patients, I recommend they dilute it further if they have very sensitive skin.

  8. Nicole says:

    What do you think about using virgin coconut oil as a moisturizer?

  9. Abby says:

    My face started to have pimples first when I’m 17 years old.. And then I used a product and it became very red since then.. It has been red continually without stopping for around 1 year and when I went to see the doctor today.. He says I have been diagnosed with rosacea.. I’m 20 now. Do you have any recommendations?

  10. shivani says:

    I have had a red flushed face most of my life. I do not have any pustules or itchyness, just red, especially when I am hot or drink alcohol. Could that be Rosacea? I always thought it was my English DNA. My daughter also flushes red and has been since she was around 8 (maybe earlier).

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