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Rosacea Is Complicated: Here’s the Best Way to Treat It, According to A Derm


If you don’t look closely, you might miss it. As your skin changes throughout the years, you may be used to overlooking new bumps or patches of redness and just praying that your skin resolves itself as soon as possible. But sometimes redness and bumps that can easily be covered up with your favorite CC cream or foundation are actually a sign of a skin condition that requires a trip to the derm, like rosacea.

“Rosacea is a very common inflammatory skin condition that affects approximately 16 million people in the U.S. alone,” says Tiffany J. Libby, MD. What makes rosacea so hard to identify is that it can sometimes resemble acne, or not appear severe enough to warrant a fix.

“There are four distinct subtypes of rosacea,” says Dr. Libby. “But the two most common ones are the vascular or redness subtype that causes prolonged flushing and dilated blood vessels, and the papulopustular type that resembles acne.” Though Dr. Libby says there may be a genetic cause for rosacea, its cause is largely unknown. But the good news (and yes, there’s good news!) is that there are treatments for rosacea available, and even some products that can help reduce the appearance of redness and help soothe bumpy skin. So if you’ve been looking for a solution to your rosacea woes, here are a few treatment options that should be on your radar, according to Dr. Libby.

About the Expert:

Tiffany J. Libby, MD is a board certified dermatologist based in New York, New York.

Rosacea Treatment Options

1. Azelaic acid

Dr. Libby says products that contain azelaic acid can help make a difference in the redness caused by rosacea. “This is a prescription medication that is also available over the counter in lower percentages to help treat rosacea by minimizing inflammation and helps even out pigmentation and exfoliate,” she says. That was already enough to make us a fan of this ingredient, but it gets better: Azelaic acid is also safe to use during pregnancy and it works to treat acne as well.

Can’t wait to try it yourself? Look for a cleanser that contains azelaic acid to get started. If you believe you need prescription-level azelaic acid, contact your dermatologist.

2. Zinc or titanium dioxide

According to Dr. Libby, there are many triggers for rosacea, including sunlight, heat or cold, stress, alcohol, spicy foods, chemical irritation, hot beverages, and even strong emotions (OK, now it’s really time to perfect that mindfulness practice you started a few months ago).

To combat at least one of those triggers—sunlight—zinc or titanium oxide can help. “Protecting your skin from the sun if you have rosacea is key as UV exposure is a common trigger for rosacea,” explains Dr. Libby. “I recommend sticking with mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these are inert ingredients that work to soothe the skin and avoid irritation.”

3. Niacinamide

If you’ve heard of niacinamide before or are currently using it in your skincare routine, you know this ingredient gets a lot of love—and for good reason. Dr. Libby says it’s one of those powerhouse ingredients that “does it all.” She adds that “it repairs damaged DNA, treats pigmentation, brightens skin, and is anti-inflammatory which helps with acne and rosacea. It is also a gentle ingredient that is safe for use in sensitive skin types, without compromising efficacy.” All in favor of adding niacinamide to your routine, rosacea or not, raise your hands!

4. Allantoin

When you’re dealing with rosacea, you need to apply products with calming ingredients that will calm down stressed, inflamed skin. This is where allantoin comes in. “This is the ultimate soothing ingredient,” says Dr. Libby. “It is a skin-protecting moisturizer and emollient that helps soothe irritation and heal injured skin.”

5. Oat

From your lattes to your morning snack, oats seem to be everywhere lately—even in skincare. That’s because oat is a powerful ingredient in eczema creams, and it can help soothe rosacea as well. “Oat extracts have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and moisturizing effects that all work synergistically to help calm and soothe irritated skin as we often see in rosacea,” says Dr. Libby. “It is rich in linoleic acid that helps fortify the skin barrier by functioning to retain water and moisture for healthy, hydrated skin.” Ready for second and third helpings of this calming ingredient? Us too.

Products That Will Help Your Rosacea Fast

1. FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Oat and Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil

FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Oat and Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil

This face oil is small but mighty. It’s packed with omegas and fatty acids and colloidal oatmeal, which work together to help calm and soothe dry, reactive, distressed skin.

2. BARE REPUBLIC SPF 30 Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion

BARE REPUBLIC SPF 30 Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion

Let the power of nature protect and nourish the sensitive skin on your face with this lightly tinted 100% natural, chemical-free active SPF 30 face sunscreen.

3. SUNTIQUE I'm Pure Perfect Cica Suncream

SUNTIQUE I'm Pure Perfect Cica Suncream

This formula is EWG green and infused with centella asiatica (a.k.a. cica), so it’s soothing and great for sensitive skin.

4. EVOLOGIE Stay Clear Cleanser

EVOLOGIE Stay Clear Cleanser

Not only does this cleanser wash away bacteria and dulling impurities without drying your skin out, but it also contains soothing botanicals that leave skin feeling clean, soft, and radiantly refreshed.

Want to discover new skincare saviors? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
Brittany Leitner
Brittany is an award winning beauty, health, and lifestyle writer and author of the poetry book "23 Emotions." She has eight years of experience writing for brands like Elite Daily, The. Dr. Oz Show, Shape, Stylecaster, Bustle, and more.
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Article Last Updated April 19, 2021 12:00 AM