Keep Your Cool with Rosacea

Anyone with rosacea likely knows that there are triggers that can cause flare- ups of this aggravating skin condition — and one of the most common rosacea triggers is heat. “Heat increases core body temperature, which makes you flush more easily and worsens rosacea,” says dermatologist Benjamin Barankin, MD, of the Dermatology Center in Toronto.

The first step in controlling the effects of heat on your rosacea is to keep your body cool through your choice of clothing and by monitoring your environment. Dr. Barankin advises his patients to avoid drinking hot beverages and taking hot showers, and to keep cool while exercising by using a fan.

Here are specifics for diffusing the effects of heat:

  • Dress in layers. Wearing layers means you can remove outer layers if you start to feel too hot. Remember that lightweight, loose fitting clothes will keep you cool most effectively.
  • Use fans as needed. In stuffy rooms or those with poor ventilation, gentle fans are a good way to stay cool.
  • Control the climate. Once you figure out which temperature level triggers your rosacea, keep your indoor environment at a temperature slightly below that.
  • Avoid steam. Saunas, hot tubs, hot showers, and hot kitchens all expose you to steam, which can overheat your skin.
  • Keep it cool. Take the time to chill items that come into contact with your skin, such as your moisturizer and your pillow. You can store skin products in the refrigerator, and personal items like pillowcases can be put in a clean bag in the freezer for a brief time to cool them down before bed.

Sun Protection Strategies

Protecting your skin against sun exposure goes hand in hand with avoiding hot conditions. “Reducing sun exposure helps prevent worsening or flares of rosacea,” says Barankin. “Clothing and sun avoidance are better than sunscreens.”

Here are ways to reduce the effects of the sun on your skin:

  • Avoid the sun when possible. Cut down on your exposure to direct sunlight by staying indoors, especially during peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; when you are outside, sit in the shade.
  • Use sunblock. “Sunblocks with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are the best, rather than sunscreens,” says Barankin. Look for products that offer an SPF 30 or greater. Make sure you apply the sunblock 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply often if you're sweating or swimming. Talk to your doctor if you need recommendations for a specific product that won’t aggravate your skin.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and protective, long-sleeved shirts and pants when you are outside.
  • Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses that filter both UVA and UVB rays.

Rosacea Cool-Down Strategies

If you do get overheated or feel yourself starting to flush a bit, you should take immediate steps to cool down. If you know you’ll be in a situation where you could overheat, plan ahead so that you can bring down the heat quickly.

Here are rosacea cool-down strategies to try:

  • Cool cloths. Cut the heat as soon as it starts by dabbing your face and neck with a cool, damp cloth. Wearing a cool cloth around you neck can be very comforting, too.
  • Portable fans. Carry a small, battery-powered portable fan in your purse or briefcase to create your own breeze.
  • Cool water. Drink water and lightly spritz yourself from a spray bottle for instant relief.
  • Ice. Sucking on ice or wearing sweatbands soaked in ice water will help cool you down.
  • Cool showers. For a total body cool-down, hop into a cool shower — but not icy-cold, which may trigger shivering.

If you have rosacea, you need to prevent overheating. Being prepared with a cooling bag of tricks will help you control this rosacea trigger.

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