Though it can cause discomfort, mild rosacea is often able to be managed by lifestyle changes and gentle skin care.
Having sensitive skin can be frustrating. It can seem like the slightest things cause unwanted irritation. Unlike eczema or contact dermatitis which can occur anywhere on the body, rosacea is usually limited to your face.
As with other dermatological conditions, rosacea sits on a spectrum. Some people have severe cases while others can be more mild. Depending on the severity of your case, you might require prescription medications to control your rosacea or may be able to use over-the-counter (OTC) and at-home treatments instead.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of mild rosacea can help you to create a more effective plan to treat this skin sensitivity and ideally enjoy clearer skin in the future.
One of the key signs that you have rosacea is that your skin irritation is almost exclusively limited to your face. In particular, rosacea flare-ups tend to concentrate around the central face, nose, and cheeks.
Other visual symptoms can include:
- small bumps
- pus-filled spots that resemble acne
- irritation on the eyelids
Historically, rosacea symptoms were described based on how the condition presented in lighter skin tones. However, on darker skin tones, flushing may be less evident. Instead, the bumps and acne-like pustules, as well as discoloration in lieu of redness are more likely to be present.
On darker skin tones, other symptoms can include:
- dry swollen skin with hyperpigmentation
- acne that doesn’t clear even with treatment
- yellowish-brown hard bumps that are around the mouth or eyes
- swollen or thickening skin around the cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead
- burning and stinging when you apply skin care products
To date, the medical community still doesn’t fully understand what causes rosacea. Experts believe that both environmental and hereditary factors might be to blame.
For environmental factors, experts know that certain behaviors can trigger rosacea:
- eating spicy foods
- foods that contain the
cinnamaldehydecompound (cinnamon and coffee)
- drinking hot liquids (especially coffee and tea)
- having the intestinal bacteria
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
- Demodex mites (Demodex folliculorum)
However, some people are more genetically predisposed to experience rosacea than others. For example, the skin condition usually develops between the ages of 30 and 50 and tends to be more common in people with fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes.
Likewise, people with a family history of rosacea and those with Scandinavian or Celtic ancestry tend to be more likely to develop it.
While females are more likely to develop rosacea, when males do have it, the condition tends to be more severe.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for rosacea. However, once you receive a formal diagnosis, you can work with a dermatologist to help create a treatment plan that controls symptoms and reduces irritation.
In most cases, a physician will rely on prescription medications which usually include a combination of oral and topical cream antibiotics. Meanwhile, mild rosacea tends to be something people can treat without prescription medications.
If you haven’t yet figured out your triggers, keeping a journal of the foods you eat, as well as any cosmetic products used can help you pinpoint irritants that make your symptoms worse.
OTC and at-home treatments
For mild rosacea, many people can turn to a combination of home remedies, OTC treatments, aesthetic procedures such as specific facials, and even lifestyle changes to control the symptoms and clear their skin.
Dietary changes can be the most straightforward and include avoiding known triggers. However, for this to be effective, you’ll need to keep a journal so you can confidently remove certain foods or increase consumption of others like fiber and probiotics to combat rosacea.
Other lifestyle changes that might help to clear your mild rosacea include avoiding extended exposure to direct sunlight, switching to gentle skin care products, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and treating any other underlying health issues.
While it shouldn’t be the first method pursued, research has also shown laser treatments or light-based therapy can help to control the look of blood vessels in the skin and even control the thickening of the skin that often occurs.
Meanwhile, many natural herbs are proven to reduce inflammation. For example, topical solutions such as green tea, oatmeal, lavender, camphor oil, tea tree oil, and even chamomile can aid in managing inflammation.
It’s recommended to do a test spot before using any oil or herb to avoid irritation or allergic reaction.
What if my mild rosacea gets worse?
For many people with mild rosacea, taking a proactive stance to control exposure to triggers and adjust lifestyle habits is usually effective at controlling symptoms and reducing inflammation.
But if your symptoms seem to get worse — especially if you’re actively trying to control them — you should speak with a physician or your dermatologist. You may need to elevate your treatment to incorporate prescription medications.
Mild rosacea is a subtype of the skin condition that can often be managed without prescription medications. Although there is currently no cure, many mild cases can improve by avoiding triggers or switching to gentler skin care products. This is often sufficient to help control symptoms.
If you suspect that you might have rosacea, you should consider speaking with your primary care provider or a dermatologist.