What is rosacea, what the symptoms and triggers and how to get rid of rosacea permanently

8 reasons why your rosacea keeps flaring up – and what to do about your triggers

29th November 2023 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

Here’s how to get a handle on your rosacea triggers, learn the symptoms, and calm the skin on your face with our expert guide

An estimated one in 10 people in the UK have a skin condition known as rosacea.

While many of us get red patches from time to time, rosacea causes your face to become red and inflamed on a regular basis.

It’s usually characterised by persistent, or chronic, redness that can be made up of a mixture of dilated blood vessels, small bumps, and even spots similar to acne.

Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes rosacea, nor how to cure it but they know that it can also be caused and triggered by multiple things from genetics to stress and environmental factors such as hot weather.

Annoyingly, flare-ups can be unpredictable and can vary wildly throughout the seasons.

To get to the bottom of the condition, and help you get it under control, we’ve spoken to a range of specialists from Chanele Rosa at Candela Medical, Sarah, founder of Sarah Louise Aesthetics, Lisa Mason-Poyner at Élan Laser Clinics and Dr Donald Grant from The Independent Pharmacy.

If you’re looking for a good rosacea moisturiser or cream, click HERE or find our recommendations in the carousel below.

What is rosacea?

Papulopustular Rosacea triggers and how to get rid of rosacea permanentlyShutterstock

According to the NHS, 1 in 10 people suffer from rosacea in the UK and it’s believed that rosacea’s inflammatory nature is due to an “abnormal immune response,” according to skincare expert Sarah, founder of Sarah Louise Aesthetics.

Rosacea symptoms

All types of rosacea symptoms revolve around redness or flushing of the skin. Especially after exercising, drinking alcohol, or being exposed to heat. This can look like sunburn or blusher and can create uneven skin texture.

The other rosacea symptoms depend on the type and severity of rosacea you have. The different types include:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea: Persistent redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels. In this type of rosacea, you may also experience burning or stinging and your skin will feel more dry and sensitive.
  • Papulopustular Rosacea: Acne-like bumps and breakouts. It looks like regular acne but rarely features blackheads which can be a big giveaway that it’s papulopustular rosacea.
  • Phymatous Rosacea: Thicker skin on your nose which makes it look bulbous and enlarged and can also affect other areas of the face, such as the forehead, chin, and ears. Common in men.
  • Ocular Rosacea: This type of rosacea affects the eyes and symptoms include redness, dryness, itching, burning, and sensitivity to light. It can cause conjunctivitis and other eye-related complications if left untreated.

If you’re unsure your redness is rosacea, sensitive skin or another skin condition, we recommend seeing a specialist who can clinically diagnose your skin condition to make sure you get the correct advice.

Rosacea triggers

“Although the exact cause of rosacea is unknown it has been found that certain things are more likely to trigger flare-ups,” Group Director of Aesthetic Services at Élan Laser Clinics, Lisa Mason-Poyner told mamabella.

The most common triggers are as follows:

It should be noted that these are triggers and not causes. They don’t give you rosacea if you’ve never had it, but they can make it worse.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety on skinShutterstock

Stress and anxiety can trigger or make rosacea worse and it’s been linked to a number of complex physiological issues.

Stress can cause fluctuations in hormones, particularly cortisol, which can affect the skin. In particular, these stress hormones can interfere with the immune system, causing inflammation, which is a key feature of rosacea.

This inflammation can cause the skin to become red, swollen, and sensitive. It can also impair the skin’s barrier function, making it more at risk of environmental irritants and allergens.

Stress and anxiety can cause something called neurovascular dysregulation, too. This means that the nerves that control blood vessels in the skin can become overactive which can lead to increased blood flow to the skin, causing flushing and redness. The skin’s blood vessels can also dilate in response to stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.

Drinking excessive alcohol

We’re not suggesting you give up alcohol completely unless you want to of course. We’re instead talking about excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol can cause people to flush and their skin to go red anyway, so if you have rosacea, this can make things worse.

Red wine, beer, gin and vodka in particular have all been linked with bringing on rosacea breakouts. A survey by the National Rosacea Society found that more than half (52%) of respondents said wine triggered their rosacea, while 42% blamed it on hard liquor and 30% said beer.

Chanele Rosa from Candela Medical recommends keeping a diary of rosacea breakouts and flare-ups generally, but especially when drinking alcohol. This means you can narrow down the worst offenders. She adds: “It’s worth making a conscious effort to understand your limits and find an alternative to de-stressing in a way that doesn’t cause flare-ups.”

Spicy foods

Foods Good for SkinCreative Commons

Spicy foods have been found to be a major culprit in making rosacea symptoms worse. The same survey by the National Rosacea Society found that spices and hot food worsened symptoms in up to 75% of adults suffering from rosacea.

The reason why spicy foods aggravate symptoms is because of a compound called capsaicin which gives food heat. Capsaicin affects the pain receptors in your skin making it feel warm which leads to flushing.


Exercise does have a tendency to make rosacea worse as it causes many of us to flush and go red as the blood rushes to our face. For people without rosacea, this redness soon subsides, but the effects can last for hours for people with rosacea.

Cardio, unsurprisingly, is the most aggravating due to the increase in the body’s demand for oxygen. This results in higher respiration and heart rates which both increase the rate of blood flow to the skin.

We’re not suggesting you stop exercising – far from it. Instead, look to modify your workout and remember to keep yourself hydrated, too.

Sun exposure

What is sunburn and how to get rid of sunburnGetty Images/iStockphoto

Sun exposure, and in particular UV rays are the most common factor that triggers rosacea. People with fair skin are more likely to experience sun damage, generally and if you have rosacea, the combination can make both worse.

To protect your skin, limit exposure to the sun, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen for face that protects against UVA and UVB rays.

FURTHER READING: What is SPF and why is it so important?

Makeup ingredients

Makeup can help hide signs of rosacea but be careful with what you’re using as certain ingredients can leave your skin dry and irritated.

“Mineral-based makeup is a great choice for people with rosacea as it doesn’t contain preservatives or other additives that can irritate the skin,” continues Rosa.

If you need foundation, opt for silicone. Some makeup comes tinted with a green or yellow base, which helps to hide redness. Water-based makeup that is fragrance-free and nonallergenic is best for rosacea sufferers and avoid products containing alcohol, menthol, witch hazel, and eucalyptus oil.

Extreme cold

How to get rid of winter rash and winter itchShutterstock

“Cold winter weather is frequently overlooked as the cause of skin disruptions,” according to The Independent Pharmacy. “However, cold winds, dehydration, and low humidity can aggravate all skin types, including those with common skin conditions like eczema or rosacea.”

If outside in cold temperatures, cover your face with a scarf or ski mask to avoid irritating the blood vessels, and apply sunscreen. Yes, even in winter.

“For extra protection, ask your dermatologist about a skin barrier topical cream that could further protect your skin from winter rosacea flare-ups,” says Rosa. “It is best to limit your outdoor time if you find an increased irritation from the wind.”


The redness and inflammation of rosacea is more common among women than men. This is because between the ages of 45-60 in women, “there is a reduction in collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, which are essential for skin hydration and repair,” said Sarah from Sarah Louise Aesthetics.

“Reduced oestrogen during menopause can also contribute to hot flushes and aggregate redness and irritation.”

FURTHER READING: What happens to skin and hair during menopause? Tips on how to manage menopause symptoms

How to get rid of rosacea permanently

What to look for when buying the best sunscreen for face UKmamabella | mamabella

Wearing SPF daily can help get rid of rosacea. Our top five are pictured (L-R) Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel, HadaLabo Sun Face Cream, Ultra Violette Supreme Screen, Thank You Farmer Sun Protect, Altruist Sunscreen

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get rid of rosacea permanently. It’s a chronic condition and because we still don’t know the exact causes, it can be hard to treat the problem at source.

There are ways to get rid of rosacea semi-permanently to the point where you have fewer flare-ups, and it doesn’t impact your self-confidence as much. Ingredients like azelaic acid are good for reducing the redness of blood vessels and calming pustule outbreaks.

“You can also reduce symptoms by leading a healthy lifestyle”, added Sarah Louise. “Eating natural and low spicy foods and staying hydrated.”

It’s also vital to protect your skin from external stressors that have a tendency to make things worse.

Ways to get rid of rosacea include:

  • Applying a sunscreen for face with an SPF factor of at least 30. This should be applied everyday and reapplied frequently when you’re outdoors.
  • Using a non-fragranced rosacea moisturiser regularly if your skin is dry or sensitive.
  • Swapping your soap for a soap substitute, in the form of an emollient, to cleanse your face.
  • Keeping a diary of days where your rosacea has been at its worst and note down what you’ve done that day to try to pinpoint potential triggers

What to avoid when trying to get rid of rosacea:

  • Don’t rub or scrub your face when cleansing as this can make rosacea worse
  • Don’t over-exfoliate and choose a gentle, yet effective exfoliator. We recommend the Paula’s Choice BHA Exfoliant because it’s gentle enough to use every day. 
  • Don’t use skincare products that contain fragrances. This is the case for all sensitive skin, but especially for rosacea.

Best rosacea treatments  

Best rosacea cream and treatment for face nose and acnemamabella | mamabella

We have a full list of the best rosacea moisturisers, creams and treatments here but our top five list is below.

Dr Donald Grant from The Independent Pharmacy also suggests using Finacea, which is an acne and rosacea gel, and Mirvaso gel.

  1. Editor’s Pick: Dermalex Rosacea Treatment – BUY NOW
  2. Bargain buy: Cetaphil PRO Range – BUY NOW
  3. Luxury buy: Clarins Calm Essentiel Gel – BUY NOW
  4. IT Cosmetics Colour Correcting Cream – BUY NOW
  5. Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream – BUY NOW
  6. Rosalique 3-in-1 Anti-redness Miracle cream – BUY NOW


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