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What makes rosacea worse?

Rosacea flare-ups may seem to show up without warning, but the truth is this vascular condition can be triggered by a range of things. Everyone’s triggers are different, so many people find it helpful to keep a rosacea journal. Weather? Exercise? Alcohol? Once you’ve identified what makes your rosacea worse, it’s important to tell your dermatologist so that together you can improve your skin care routine.

Click the icons below to get more insight into common triggers and the simple lifestyle adjustments you can make to help avoid future flare-ups.

Sun Exposure

FACT: In a survey by the National Rosacea Society of 1,066 rosacea patients, 81% said sun exposure was the #1 rosacea trigger.

Quick Tip: Always wear a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, even in the cooler months and in the car. Wind can also be particularly vicious, so be sure to shield your skin with a hat and scarf.

Temperature & Weather

FACT: For effective rosacea management, it’s best to avoid extreme weather. Cozying up to the fire or enjoying a hot bath or shower might sound comforting, but if you have rosacea, overly warm environments can increase blood flow and facial flushing can often follow.

Quick Tip: Avoid saunas, hot baths, and being close to heaters, fireplaces, and ovens. Cold weather and wind exposure can also trigger rosacea, so bundle up when heading into the cold.

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FACT: Certain foods can trigger rosacea flare-ups:

  • Spicy foods
  • Hot soups
  • Broad-leaf beans and pods, including lima, navy, or pea
  • Dairy products like yogurt or sour cream
  • Chocolate
  • Some citrus fruits
  • Foods high in histamine such as cheese (except cottage cheese), eggplant, spinach, vinegar, and soy sauce

Quick Tip: If you’re suffering from rosacea, keeping a food journal can help you track what foods or beverages trigger flare-ups.


Many people think that rosacea is caused by alcohol abuse, but that’s a myth. However, alcohol and hot beverages can trigger rosacea flare-ups.

FACT: While alcohol does not cause rosacea, as little as one drink can aggravate flare-ups. Especially when drinking red wine.

Quick Tip: As a general rule, it’s wise to be aware of alcohol consumption and reduce the temperature of hot beverages.

Skin Care Products

FACT: Rosacea-prone skin tends to be sensitive, so while it’s important to apply sunscreen daily and moisturize in bitter winter months, certain products with alcohol or fragrance can be less than friendly to your skin. Products to avoid because they may irritate your skin:

  • Scrubs, toners, or other items with strong scents
  • Waterproof or heavy foundations because they require makeup remover or heavy scrubbing to take off
  • In surveys conducted by the National Rosacea Society, the following ingredients were considered by many to trigger rosacea symptoms: alcohol, witch hazel, fragrance, menthol, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil

Quick Tip: Avoid products made to treat acne because they can be too harsh and can actually worsen rosacea symptoms. Instead, cleanse gently with products that are alcohol- and fragrance-free, rinse with lukewarm water, and blot the face dry with a soft cotton towel. Your dermatologist can give you more tips, because everyone’s skin is different.


FACT: Working up a good sweat is vital to healthy living, but intense exercise can lead to overheating—and trigger flare-ups.

Quick Tip: If you’re going for an outdoor jog, step out when the sun is at its weakest (early morning or evening). In cool-down mode, be sure to drink plenty of fluids.

Emotional Influences

FACT: Just having to deal with the visible signs of rosacea can bring on more flushing, which can bring on more stress... ugh! In a survey done by the National Rosacea Society, 70% of people with severe rosacea symptoms said it negatively affected their professional interactions, and 41% said rosacea made them avoid public contact or cancel plans.

Quick Tip: Practicing simple stress management techniques may help squelch tension-fueled flare-ups. Eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and practice deep breathing exercises throughout the day. If rosacea symptoms are upsetting you, it’s wise to get symptoms under control before they get worse. Prioritize talking to a dermatologist about treatment options.

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Medical Conditions

FACT: Conditions like menopause, chronic cough, and high blood pressure can trigger rosacea flare-ups.

Quick Tip: As always, talk with your dermatologist about the symptoms you’re experiencing, and ask them how best to care for all of your conditions.

As little as one alcoholic drink can aggravate rosacea. Red wine in particular is a common trigger for a lot of people.