Jan 05, 2016 1:00 AM

Author: Elizabeth Renda


Winter is a rough time for people with rosacea. The roughly 14 million sufferers in the U.S. brace for redness and bumps to appear on their skin during the cold and blustery weather. There are precautions they can take to stay comfortable, though. Brooks Bahr, MD, a dermatologist with University of Utah Health Care has some helpful tips to get through the winter while avoiding a flare.

Remember Sunscreen

Sun exposure is the number one trigger for rosacea. During winter months, people are more likely to skip the sunscreen because temperatures are colder and the sun seems less obvious.  Even if the sun isn’t making you feel hot, it’s still having an abrasive effect on your skin. When heading out, always wear lotion that is SPF 30.

“It’s especially important to remember sunscreen when participating in winter sports,” Bahr says. “You are higher in elevation and the snow reflects the sun at a more extreme level.” 

Avoid Hot Drinks

People are more likely to sip on warm holiday drinks during the winter. However, a hot drink can trigger a flush in your face and a flare-up of your rosacea. If it’s hot enough to make you feel overheated, then it is too warm and may cause a flare.

“If you have to have a cup of cocoa,” Bahr says, “drink it at a lukewarm temperature so you don’t overheat.” 

Don’t Keep Too Warm

With freezing temperatures outside, everyone snuggles up to get warm once they are inside. However, sitting too close to the fire or giving in to the temptation to turn up the heat at your home may not be the best thing for your rosacea. And although the desire to take a hot shower or bath is tempting after coming in from the cold, set the water at a more moderate temperature to avoid overheating

“Warm temperatures aggravate the skin to increase blood flow, triggering facial flushing,” the doctor says. “Add to that the dry heat coming out of your vents and it’s a warm, dry environment prime for a rosacea flare.”

Wear a Scarf

Wind is one of the biggest triggers for rosacea. Cold winter wind is especially harsh. Try to keep your face covered as much as possible to keep the wind from irritating the blood vessels on your face.

“It’s best to limit time outdoors if you find the wind is irritating your skin,” he says. “If you must go out, make sure to have a warm scarf that covers the bottom of your face to block the wind.”

Moisturize

As your skin becomes drier, it also becomes more irritated, potentially leading to a flare. However, it’s also important to use a bland moisturizer, so that scents and too many ingredients don’t aggravate the skin. Decreased humidity associated with low temperatures increases skin dryness and leads to rosacea.

“People with rosacea should avoid fragrant lotions and stick to ones that are light and plain,” Bahr advises. “When applying, avoid rubbing or massaging your face, since that can aggravate your skin.”

Humidify and Hydrate

A humidifier works to replace the moisture in the air, helping with irritated skin. And drinking water reduces skin dryness – an issue already aggravated in winter.  Try substituting one soda, coffee or juice a day with a glass of water to start.

“Any solution that will help you introduce more moisture to your skin is going to ease up on those potential rosacea triggers,” he says.

Winter is already a burden on your skin. Take precautions to ensure smooth sailing and smooth skin. 


Elizabeth Renda

Elizabeth Renda is the Communications Specialist for University of Utah Health Care's Department of Dermatology. Follow the department on Twitter @UofUDermatology.

dermatology rosacea

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