Anyone who suffers from rosacea knows that flares are a part of life. Common triggers include being outside in the sun, drinking alcohol or caffeine, exercising, and eating spicy foods. So, what you can do to help manage these flare ups? "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," says Dr. David E. Bank, MD, FAAD. "Being proactive in avoiding your triggers is much easier than waiting for the flare to occur and then trying to treat it."
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That said, we know this isn't always possible—and you shouldn't always have to cut out the fun things in life. Says Dr. Morgan Rabach, dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical, "You have to live a little bit, too. My approach is moderation." Luckily, when a flare does happen, there are some steps you can take to ease redness. Here, a variety of ways to stop a rosacea flare in its tracks.
Eat ice chips.
When your skin is flushed, it means your blood vessels are open, letting blood flow directly to your face, Dr. Rabach says. Chewing ice chips could help constrict the blood vessels temporarily, reducing the appearance of redness.
Try a cold compress.
It may reduce swelling, Dr. Rabach says, but take caution: Rosacea can actually flare up in the cold. "Never put ice directly onto the skin," she says, "but you can definitely use a cold compress to see if it helps."
Even better: Apply a cool milk compress.
"The lactic acid in the milk is anti-inflammatory," Dr. Bank says, so you'll do double duty by easing swelling and redness. Just soak a soft cloth or towel in milk and apply to your skin (this is also said to help with sunburns, too!).
Apply a cream with niacinamide.
Bonus points if it has sunscreen in it, which will help protect your face from further aggravation from the sun. The thought is that niacinamide—a form of vitamin B3—is a great anti-inflammatory and redness-reducing ingredient, thanks to its many antioxidant properties.
The jury is still out on aloe vera—but if you try it, consider its source.
"Aloe is anecdotally soothing, but hasn't been proven scientifically," Dr. Rabach says. "I don't recommend it because it is often in an alcohol-based gel, which is drying and harsh for skin." If you want to try it, we recommend applying a bit of natural aloe vera in its pure form—no additives or alcohol included.
In a pinch, try hydrocortisone.
"You can get one percent hydrocortisone cream over the counter," Dr. Bank explains. It's a steroid—so it shouldn't be used as a long-term solution, he cautions—but it can be used to calm redness on the spot.