Calm your rosacea flare with these basic over-the-counter (OTC) treatments and lifestyle modifications.

Facing the mirror to find your complexion flared up with redness can be frustrating and disheartening. If you’re living with rosacea, you’ve likely been there more than once.

If rosacea is the culprit behind your skin’s appearance, you’re not alone. Many people around the world are living with this condition and also successfully managing it.

Besides medications, there are several steps that you can take to ensure that you’re doing the best you can to support the health of your skin. Understanding rosacea is the first step toward taming the flush and reclaiming your natural glow.

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by discoloration and visible blood vessels on your face. In some cases, it can also include small bumps resembling acne.

The symptoms typically flare up for periods of time before subsiding and reappearing at a later date, often following a trigger.

Since rosacea can look like red cheeks or resemble a sunburn, it can sometimes be confused with other skin conditions. However, rosacea is a distinct condition that can be classified into four different types:

  • erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: persistent redness and visible blood vessels
  • papulopustular: redness, swelling, and acne-like breakouts
  • phymatous: thickened skin with a bumpy texture; usually involves the nose
  • ocular: eyes and eyelids become red and irritated

Rosacea symptoms

One of the main symptoms of rosacea is red (or pink or purple) skin on your cheeks and other areas of your face, such as the eyes, forehead, and nose.

Beyond discoloration, however, symptoms may also include the following:

  • skin that feels hot or tender
  • burning or stinging sensation on your face
  • dry, irritated, swollen eyes
  • red, swollen eyelids
  • enlarged nose
  • changes in the texture of your skin

The symptoms may also be triggered by any of these commonly reported factors:

  • sunlight
  • spicy food
  • hot drinks
  • alcohol
  • wind
  • humidity
  • extreme temperatures
  • heavy exercise
  • stress
  • makeup

Many OTC products can help manage rosacea symptoms. Ingredients with soothing, anti-inflammatory properties are often especially helpful.

According to 2020 research, some common herbal ingredients with these properties include:

  • tormentil
  • bitter wood
  • licorice
  • green tea extract

Additionally, 2021 research has shown benefits for niacinamide, which is a compound derived from vitamin B3. Niacinamide may be helpful in calming skin inflammation and has other skin-protective properties.

Commonly found in sunscreen, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can also be useful. These two ingredients can help protect your skin from flare-ups related to sun exposure.

Here are some ingredients that are thought to be beneficial, although more research is needed:

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends several tips to help manage rosacea symptoms:

  • Cleanse your skin twice per day with a gentle cleanser.
  • Apply moisturizer and sunscreen daily.
  • Be gentle and avoid scrubbing your skin.

It’s also important to avoid using products that contain harsh chemicals, such as:

  • alcohol
  • urea
  • camphor or menthol
  • lactic acid
  • glycolic acid
  • fragrances
  • sodium lauryl sulfate

How do you calm rosacea on your face?

Calming rosacea on your face involves following a skin care plan, usually recommended to you by a dermatologist.

The first recommended step in rosacea treatment is often the identification and avoidance of your triggers. If you’re not sure what’s triggering your symptoms, it may be helpful to keep a journal.

Another part of that plan is sticking to your daily skin care routine. Although it can be laborious, daily cleansing and moisturizing are recommended to help calm flare-ups when they occur.

Medications may also be recommended by a dermatologist to help prevent and manage flare-ups. Checking in with a dermatologist on a regular basis will ensure that your treatment plan is effective.

Beyond avoiding triggers and establishing a gentle skin care routine, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to help manage rosacea:


Some people with rosacea notice that certain foods trigger their symptoms. Besides alcohol and spicy food, the most frequently reported are

  • hot drinks
  • histamine-rich foods (e.g., cheese, wine, processed meats)
  • cinnamaldehyde-containing foods (e.g., tomatoes, citrus, chocolate)

Although your triggers can be different, it may be beneficial to maintain a balanced diet and avoid foods known to commonly trigger symptoms.


Techniques such as yoga, meditation, or other forms of relaxation can be effective in managing stress levels, potentially reducing the frequency of flare-ups.


Extreme hot or cold temperatures can sometimes lead to a flare-up. When possible, try to protect your face from harsh weather and avoid overheated rooms or saunas.


Lack of sleep can worsen many health issues, including skin conditions like rosacea, according to a 2020 study. Ensuring you get plenty of quality sleep may help to manage symptoms.

If you suspect you have rosacea, it’s important to see a dermatologist. Symptoms may worsen or progress over time, so working with a dermatologist will help you identify the best treatment strategy.

Persistent redness or thickening skin should also prompt a visit. A dermatologist can provide an accurate diagnosis and help you navigate the process of managing your symptoms, providing the right treatments at the right time.

Navigating the challenges of rosacea can feel like an uphill battle, but it’s a battle you don’t have to fight alone. By understanding your symptoms, recognizing your triggers, and finding suitable over-the-counter treatments, you’re one step ahead of rosacea.

While a visit to a dermatologist may become necessary, the choices you make every day can significantly impact the health of your skin. With knowledge and consistent care, you have the power to live comfortably with rosacea.