Feeling a little red in the face? Can’t get the red to go away? You may have a skin condition called rosacea.
Rosacea isn’t exactly a common occurrence in men, but when it does pop up, it’s often worse than it is for women.
For men with rosacea, the idea of having to take on a rosacea skin care routine can seem both daunting and a major hassle.
But finding the best rosacea skin care regimen for your needs isn’t just about keeping your condition from flaring up — it’s also about looking your best in your own skin.
Part of that is accepting what your skin is and what it needs. To understand what rosacea skin needs, it’s important to take a look at this somewhat misunderstood condition.
Rosacea is a long-term skin condition that causes rashes and reddened skin on the face — typically on the nose and cheeks.
It’s a chronic condition, and symptoms may reoccur based on things like your stress levels, sun exposure and other interactions with irritants.
Symptoms of rosacea include facial redness, enlarged blood vessels and an engorged nose.
There is no cure for rosacea, but treatments are considered effective and can be as simple as at-home cleansers and sunscreen, or can include medications.
Rosacea commonly affects fair-skinned people, but there’s also some question as to whether it’s just harder to diagnose in people with darker skin, where the symptoms may be harder to spot.
Men aren’t the typical rosacea sufferer, but when they do get it, it tends to be more severe.
Rosacea is different from other skin conditions in that we don’t know much about its causes.
While there are some generally agreed-upon common triggers like stress and sunlight, the bigger picture of how genetics and the environment play into rosacea symptoms and diagnoses isn’t fully understood.
There’s also no specific test for rosacea — a healthcare professional will do a visual assessment and combine signs of rosacea from your facial skin and eyes (which may suggest a particular type of rosacea called ocular rosacea) with your medical history to determine if you’re indeed suffering from rosacea.
Rosacea may never go away, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to for it to be managed into relative obscurity.
To mostly eliminate your outbreaks, you may need to adopt a new rosacea skin care routine — include some new medications.
The good news is that rosacea is easily cared for. Like other skin issues, including mild acne, warts and minor rashes, rosacea can mostly be treated by a primary care provider and is easily managed with the right help
It’s best to avoid your own triggers, which may be difficult to determine easily or immediately.
People with rosacea can be triggered to have an outbreak from things like the sun, stress, hot or cold weather, strong winds, hard or strenuous exercise, hot baths, drinking alcohol, drinking hot drinks or eating spicy foods and beverages.
As such, a general rule of thumb is simply to keep up the gentle care of your skin as if it was sensitive to these things.
Watching for redness in your eyes and wearing a proper sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher when you’re going to spend extensive time outside are good rules of thumb for everyone, as is to drink responsibly.
And we don’t have to tell you that bathing in water that’s too hot can harm more than just your face, fellas.
For the more extreme versions, when skin may become thicker or visible blood vessels may have been enlarged, the end game may require things laser surgery, light therapy or surgical procedures to adjust those visual signs of long-term rosacea.
But many rosacea skin care activities can be performed at home, like the below:
Maybe this is obvious, but protecting your sensitive skin from smoke, sunlight, punishing winds, cold and hot temperature extremes and other environmental hazards will reduce the irritation responsible for causing some symptoms of rosacea to pop off.
This might include vitamin C or other treatments — check out our guide to How to Take Care of Your Skin for more information.
We mentioned stress earlier, but the fact is that numerous studies point to the psychological element in managing rosacea symptoms.
If your home or work life is stressing you out and you feel particularly physically and mentally strained, it may be time to talk to someone about that.
Left unchecked, chronic stress may lead to anxiety, depression and even heart disease. That’s after it’s already done damage to your face, of course.
Azelaic acid is a topical skin medication typically used to fight acne symptoms, but it can also be used to manage rosacea.
It’s both an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory medication, which means it can reduce swelling and persistent redness associated with irritation, and can also deal with bacteria that may be an underlying cause for acne issues — or possibly even rosacea.
Azelaic acid works by decreasing the production of keratin in your skin, which is great, especially for managing signs of skin thickening that might make you look older and give your skin a more leathery appearance.
Getting enough zinc? If not, you may want to fix that. Medical preparations of zinc — like zinc pyrithione — are topical agents used to treat skin conditions like warts, dandruff, acne and rosacea, but are also sometimes used to fight off everything from basal cells and herpes to leprosy, as well as eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo and other skin health conditions.
It’s technically an antifungal agent, but its benefits are reliable regardless of whether you’re dealing with fungal irritants or just too much time in the sun.
If you think you have rosacea, the next step is contacting a healthcare professional. With conditions like rosacea, there may be over-the-counter medications and rosacea treatments that could help you, but you really shouldn’t go shopping for them yourself.
A healthcare professional is uniquely qualified to help you diagnose not just the condition of rosacea itself, but the likely triggers and causes that your individual rosacea is most sensitive to.
In other words, a healthcare professional will be able to point you to the right safe and effective treatment options for your individual rosacea issues, and without you having to drop hundreds of dollars on products just to “see if anything works.”
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.