What Causes Rosacea Flare-ups?

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that mainly affects the face. Veins or acne-like bumps can emerge during these episodes and make your skin look red and irritated.

Unfortunately, rosacea flare-ups can have a big physical and emotional impact. According to research, almost 90% of people who suffer from rosacea say they experience lower self-confidence and self-esteem, while 41% report that it has caused them to avoid social situations.

The good news is there are things you can do to help prevent flare-ups. Identifying your triggers and working to avoid them can reduce your likelihood of experiencing symptoms.

Karl Trippe, MD, of Waco Primary Care in Waco, Texas, provides comprehensive rosacea assessment and treatment. Dr. Trippe can help you identify your triggers and reduce your flare-ups with a treatment plan that includes lifestyle modifications, prescription medicine, and photorejuvenation, as appropriate for your condition.

Triggers for rosacea flare-ups

While researchers aren’t completely sure what causes rosacea, they do know that certain things can trigger flare-ups. Keeping a diary of daily activities and events can help you identify associations between triggers and flare-ups. This information can then give you a roadmap of what to avoid. Here are some common triggers for rosacea flare-ups.

Certain foods and drinks

Certain foods and drinks are common triggers for rosacea flare-ups. Spicy foods can worsen symptoms in about 75% of adults with rosacea.

The pain receptors in your skin that react to warmth can be stimulated by the chemical capsaicin. Foods that contain capsaicin, such as jalapeños, chili peppers, hot sauces, and tabasco peppers, can trigger redness, because they can affect these receptors.

The chemical cinnamaldehyde can also trigger a warming sensation and trigger rosacea flare-ups. This ingredient is found in cinnamon, chocolate, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.

Alcohol, especially red wine, is another common trigger for rosacea. The beverage can dilate the small blood vessels in your face, which can make your skin appear flushed.

Overheating your body

Overheating your body, whether from the environment or a hot beverage, can trigger rosacea flare-ups.

Heat and humidity can increase your body temperature, which can dilate your blood vessels and trigger inflammation, which can then make you appear flushed. This can occur due to exposure to the sun, heaters, fireplaces, and other heat sources.

High-intensity workouts can redden anyone’s skin due to the increased blood flow and heart rate. However, this effect can be more pronounced if you’re susceptible to rosacea.

Stress and anxiety

Excess stress can cause the body to overreact with dramatic chemical and physical changes. If you’re susceptible to rosacea, you’re more likely to experience flare-ups following stressful or emotional events. These emotions may encourage your body to release adrenaline and cortisol, which can have an inflammatory effect on the skin.

If you live with chronic stress, you may experience an uncontrollable cycle of rosacea flare-ups unless you learn stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, and address the sources of your emotional turmoil.

Exposure to cold and wind

Rosacea-prone skin is typically sensitive to changes in temperature and the elements. Just a few minutes of wind can trigger a response of redness and flushing. If you spend time in cooler weather without covering your face, you might trigger rosacea flare-ups.

Blustery weather can dry out your skin, which can result in flushed patches of dryness. Skipping your moisturizer and allowing your skin to dry out may also trigger flare-ups.

Improper skin care

If you’re not paying attention to the ingredients in your skin care products, you could be aggravating your rosacea. Common rosacea triggers include alcohol, camphor, menthol, and sodium lauryl sulfate.

Harsh cleansers, toners, and astringents can dry skin and worsen rosacea in some people. Acne treatments and products that contain retinoids or salicylic acid can also have this effect.

If you have rosacea, you should try to use products that are fragrance-free, oil-free, and hypoallergenic.