We’re in the midst of winter. Both temperature and moisture levels have dropped, and it’s hard on the skin. For those with rosacea, winter presents more concerns. A majority of the top 10 triggers that worsen rosacea symptoms according to a Rosacea.org poll are directly related to winter weather. What’s the best way to get through the winter?
Rosacea is a chronic and often progressive condition that causes flushing, redness, and inflammation of the face. It affects between 2% to 5% of the population and tends to affect women more often than men. The symptoms and their severity vary from individual to individual. There is currently no cure for rosacea.
One of the frustrations with a chronic condition like rosacea is that symptom control becomes a part of your life, a situation that those with allergies are familiar with. Rosacea symptoms, in particular, is challenging because it is triggered by very common and mundane activities like drinking coffee, eating spicy foods, or exercising. The top 10 triggers according to Rosacea.org are:
- Sun Exposure: 81%
- Emotional Stress: 79%
- Hot Weather: 75%
- Wind: 57%
- Heavy Exercise: 56%
- Alcohol: 52%
- Hot Baths: 51%
- Cold Weather: 46%
- Spicy Foods: 45%
- Humidity: 44%
These are extremely common, with 7 of the top 10 being a trigger in more than 50% of patients. As patients are likely to have multiple triggers, it’s easy to see how rosacea can have a big impact on a patient’s daily life. Avoiding rosacea triggers like hot weather is often much more challenging than avoiding even the most common allergy triggers like metal or pollen. In addition to the top 10 list, even the less common triggers for rosacea like drug interactions, foods and drinks, spices, and skin or hair care products all interfere with everyday life. A good strategy to live with rosacea is going to be important.
Finding Your Balance With Rosacea
Most doctors (or websites) will advise strict trigger avoidance to keep rosacea symptoms under control. This isn’t bad advice, but it’s also generalized advice. It’s ideal if the triggers can be avoided entirely, but it isn’t going to work for all people at all times. In practice, many rosacea patients will find the idea of abstinence to be impractical, given that their triggers are so commonplace and tied in with daily life. Realistically, patients will need to strike a balance between minimizing the symptoms and living life.
Dermatologist Dr. Thomas also opts for a balanced and measured approach of Rosacea and trigger avoidance:
Rosacea symptoms are not life-threatening, but they definitely make life difficult when flare-ups occur. On the other hand, giving up coffee, alcohol, hot baths, or exercise entirely isn’t desirable or even realistic for many people either. Many lifestyle decisions will, therefore, come down to comparing the upsides and downsides. If you are newly diagnosed with Rosacea, you won’t always know how your body reacts to various triggers. You can help yourself by asking some key questions:
- What triggers your rosacea symptoms? If you aren’t sure, have you tested one by one, the factors that seem to worsen your condition?
- How bad are the symptoms, and how much do they affect your life?
- Can you avoid or minimize exposure to the triggering factors in a practical manner? When is it worth it to do so?
While there are commonalities among rosacea symptoms and triggers, they are demographic generalizations at best. Only you are in a position to really understand how your body reacts.