Flushed skin is the most well-known symptom of rosacea, but this incredibly common skin condition — which affects 16 million Americans, according to the American Association of Dermatology — is more than just a blush. "Symptoms of rosacea include facial redness, flushing, patchy dryness, and acne-like bumps," says board-certified dermatologist Patricia Farris.
Rosacea often manifests itself in the middle of the face around the nose or in the center of the forehead, explains Joyce Davis, a dermatologist in New York City. "Rosacea may look like you're blushing," she says. "Rosacea is more likely in women and is usually found in people who have a light complexion." If you have fair skin that tends to burn easily, you may be a candidate for rosacea.
If these symptoms sound familiar, a dermatologist can help you determine whether you're dealing with rosacea, and more important, which type of rosacea you may have. Dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson explains that rosacea is broken down into four subcategories: papulopustular rosacea (characterized by "redness, swelling, and acne-like breakouts"), erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (which means "redness, flushing, visible blood vessels"), phymatous rosacea ("skin thickens and has a bumpy texture"), and ocular rosacea ("eyes red and irritated, eyelids can be swollen, and the person may have what looks like a stye").
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A dermatologist can help determine the proper course of treatment, which may include "low-dose oral antibiotics, topical medicines such as sulfur or finacea gel, or different topical medicines with sulfa antibiotics or Oracea, which is a low-dose doxycycline that can be taken topically or orally," says Davis.
In addition to prescription treatments, there are innovative over-the-counter products that soothe and mask redness, combat acne bumps from papulopustular rosacea, minimize swelling, and more. In fact, there are so many products that we needed our dermatologists to pare them down. Ahead, find expert recommendations for moisturizers, masks, cleansers, and more to add to your rosacea-specific routine.
"Patients with rosacea often complain of sensitive skin, making it difficult for them to use cosmetic products," says Farris. "This is likely due to the fact that there is a disruption in skin-barrier function associated with rosacea." Many of our dermatologists also recommend products that repair the skin barrier to help lock in moisture and minimize dryness. Read on for each one's rosacea solutions.
SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer
Two out of our three dermatologists recommend SkinCeuticals's redness-targeting formula to their patients. "This works by strengthening the skin's defense against environmental triggers like temperature, weather, and sun exposure, which can trigger rosacea flares," explains Robinson. The formula includes squalane and botanicals like bark extract to soothe skin.
SkinMedica Redness Relief Calmplex
Farris recommends SkinMedica's properietry calmplex formula, which uses bioactive compounds to target inflammation and redness. She describes it as a "therapeutic moisturizer," and is a special fan of the niacinamide in the formula, which improves skin barrier function to keep skin hydrated.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
If you share your skin-care products with non-rosacea prone roommates, a simple, affordable cleanser is a must buy. Davis doesn't need any of those fancy redness-reducing formulas. Her number-one recommendation for rosacea patients is a basic cleanser like Cetaphil.
Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36
Facial redness may leave you tempted to cake on concealer and foundation. Instead of heavy makeup, Robinson recommends her patients cover up with Alastin's tinted sunscreen. "It offers physical sunscreen protection with a universally flattering tint that takes the edge off redness, without weighing down the skin," she says.
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Mask
If you're suffering from papulopustular rosacea, also known as acne rosacea, Peter Thomas Roth's acne treatment mask can help. Robinson recommends it because it "soothes and calms flares with aloe vera, while purifying and detoxifying pores, helping to dry out pimples."
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer
Robinson recommends rosacea patients try La Roche-Posay's oil-free moisturizer, which uses glycerin to soothe and soften irritated patches of rosacea and niacinamide to reduce inflammation.
Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar
As Davis points out, Cetaphil's gentle facial cleansing bar is most notable for what it doesn't have: glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or lactic acid, all of which can worsen rosacea. It's a favorite of her patients who prefer a cleansing bar.
Eucerin Redness Relief Night Cream
Eucerin's ultra-affordable sleeping cream is meant to reduce redness overnight, and it's non-comedogenic, which means you won't wake up with clogged pores. Farris likes it because it's a "soothing moisturizer with natural lichochalcone, which improves skin sensitivity and redness."
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