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Why Am I Blushing? Common Rosacea Triggers and How to Minimize Them

Posted by Nikki Wisher on Apr 23rd 2024

Why Am I Blushing? Common Rosacea Triggers and How to Minimize Them

Rosacea is a skin condition that causes your skin to frequently become red and flushed – some flare-ups rise and fade quickly and other times they last for days. That makes rosacea tricky to manage. All of us in the rosy cheeks club have had times when we were out with friends, thinking we looked our best, and then someone snaps a picture or we catch a glimpse in the mirror and discover that we’ve been walking around looking like Santa Claus.

Along with things like prescription medications and other help from your dermatologist, managing rosacea is largely about triggers. Everyone with rosacea has certain triggers can cause flare-ups, and those triggers are different for all of us. But figuring out what your triggers are and finding ways to minimize them (or at least plan for them) goes a long way toward helping you control your symptoms and feel confident about your skin.

Common Rosacea Triggers and How to Minimize Them

Finding your rosacea triggers comes from watching your symptoms and looking for patterns, like things you were doing when a flare-up happened. Some triggers are fairly common among people with rosacea, so to help to start cutting down on your flare-ups, here are some of those common triggers and a few tips for avoiding or reducing them.

Sun Exposure

That redness you see after a day at the beach (or a trip to the mailbox) might not be sunburn but a rosacea flare-up. Don’t worry, you don’t need to live the vampire life to keep your skin healthy. Just try to plan your outdoor activities outside of the hours when the sun is strongest (usually 10:00 am – 2:00 pm). Wear facial sunscreen daily, and when you’ll be spending some time outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat, a visor, or a baseball cap to shade your face.

Stress

In a perfect world, you could say “hey universe, I need a stress-free life, doctor’s orders,” but we all know that won’t happen. One solution is to find ways to reduce your stress when possible, like an app to manage your to-do list so you don’t forget about tasks or money management tools to make your finances more predictable. Another option for stresses you can’t control is to use stress management techniques like breath work and meditation, or simply taking time to do something relaxing.

Alcohol

If your rosacea is triggered by alcohol, the obvious answer is to drink less alcohol. If you don’t want to cut it out entirely, there are tricks you can use. For example, drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink so you drink less throughout the night. Or, if you’re drinking cocktails, ask the bartender to put your drinks in a larger glass with more mixer (for example, ask for a gin and tonic in a tall glass with just one shot of gin but twice the tonic). This way, you have a tasty drink to sip on for longer but you still only have one drink worth of alcohol.

It's also worth noting that for many, certain alcohols trigger rosacea symptoms more than others. Red wine is particularly common, while not as many people get flare-ups from white wine. Or you might react to beer more than other drinks, or certain types of liquors rather than others. Keep track and consider which drinks are more rosacea-friendly for you.

Temperature

Both hot weather and cold and windy weather can trigger rosacea symptoms – you might be triggered by either of these, both, or neither. You can keep those flare-ups to a minimum by reducing your outdoor time when it’s very hot or very cold outside. When those outings aren’t avoidable, look for ways to keep your body more comfortable like bringing a handheld fan when it’s hot or bundling up more when it’s cold. Pro tip: a face mask like the medical masks we wore during the COVID pandemic can keep your cheeks nice and warm on a cold day.

Hot Drinks

I know, I live by the coffee mug too, but hot drinks like coffee or tea are common rosacea triggers. You could switch to iced coffee, or just let hot drinks cool down before you drink them. Your drinks don’t need to be cold, just warm rather than piping hot.

Spicy Food

Spicy foods often trigger rosacea symptoms, and unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this one except to eat fewer spicy foods. If there are certain foods you love, look for ingredient substitutions that keep the great taste but dial down the spiciness, or at restaurants, as if they can make those items milder.

Intense Exercise

Your body loves a nice strong workout, but your face…not so much. Strenuous workouts in particular tend to trigger rosacea symptoms. You could dial down the intensity of your workouts, but there are also health benefits to getting that good cardio. You could limit your tough workouts to fewer days per week.

There are also ways to minimize the effect of those workouts by avoiding other factors that can make your flare-ups works. For example, try to work out in a cooler environment like an air-conditioned gym. And when you shower after your workout, keep the water cool or warm rather than hot. It also helps to simply time your workouts in a way that doesn’t allow. your flare-ups to affect your life as much. For example, if you work out before work or before a social event, allow enough time in between for the flare-up to fade, or use green-tinted makeup or skin soothing products to ease post-workout redness.

Managing Your Rosacea Symptoms

Rosacea is a chronic condition that’s likely to affect you for many years, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s a burden on your life. Pairing smart trigger management with dermatology care can help you keep your flare-ups to a minimum and enjoy a clear-skinned glow most days.