What to Do When Rosacea Causes Pain

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If you have rosacea, you're used to dealing with the visible effects of the condition, such as redness, flushing, bumps, and pimples. But rosacea isn't just a complexion problem. For many people, it can also cause painful, unseen symptoms such as burning, itching, and stinging.   Thankfully, taking steps to treat the outer symptoms of rosacea can also tame the pain.

Try Medical Therapy

In a recent survey by the National Rosacea Society, more than 90 percent of people with rosacea felt physical discomfort because of their condition. But nearly 70 percent of these individuals found some relief though medical therapy. Medical therapy for rosacea may include topical and/or oral medications as well as laser or light therapy.

It's important to work closely with your doctor to find a combination of therapies that works well for you. Keep in mind, your plan can be modified if needed. For example, it's common for burning or stinging to occur when applying topical medications. If you feel that your skin is too sensitive for a certain medication, make sure to tell your doctor.

Avoid Triggers

One of the best ways to reduce or prevent painful symptoms is to minimize the things that cause rosacea flare-ups. Keep a journal of your symptoms to help pinpoint these triggers. Although triggers vary from person to person, common ones include spicy foods, hot drinks, alcohol, emotional stress, and sun exposure.

Take Care of Your Skin

Experts say that caring for your skin can help reduce rosacea flare-ups, which, in turn, can reduce painful sensations. To start, wash your face using lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free cleanser. Lather the soap with the tips of your fingers rather than lathering directly on your face, and never scrub or rub harshly.

After gentle rinsing, pat your face dry with a clean cloth. Then, wait for five or 10 minutes before applying medication, letting it soak in an additional five or 10 minutes before applying makeup or other skin products. The skin is most absorbent when it's wet. By ensuring that it's thoroughly dry before continuing with your skincare routine, you can reduce the chance of stinging or burning.

Talk with Your Doctor

Rosacea affects each person differently. As a result, it's important to tell your physician about your unique symptoms. That includes any physical discomfort. The more your doctor understands about your condition, the better he or she can develop a treatment plan that's truly right for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Rosacea can cause painful, unseen symptoms such as burning, itching, and stinging.

  • One of the best ways to reduce the pain is to minimize things that cause rosacea flare-ups.

  • Medical therapy such as topical or oral medications, as well as laser or light therapy, can also offer relief.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Apr 30

  1. Frequently Asked Questions, National Rosacea Society, accessed Aug. 29, 2012 (http://rosacea.org/patients/faq.php#commonlifestyle);

  2. Medical Therapy for Rosacea, National Rosacea Society, accessed Aug. 30, 2012 (http://rosacea.org/patients/medicaltherapy/treatmentoptions.php);

  3. Sun Protection and Moisturizer, National Rosacea Society, accessed Aug. 29, 2012 (http://www.rosacea.org/patients/skincare/skincare.php);

  4. Physical Pain From Rosacea, National Rosacea Society, July 2012 (http://www.rosacea.org/weblog/2012/07/19/physical_pain_from_rosacea/index.php);

  5. Gentle Skin Care Helps Control Rosacea, American Academy of Dermatology, accessed Aug. 30, 2012 (http://www.skincarephysicians.com/rosaceanet/gentle_skin_care.html);

  6. Redness, Flushing and Visible Blood Vessels, American Academy of Dermatology, accessed Aug. 29, 2012 (http://www.skincarephysicians.com/rosaceanet/treatment_redness.html);

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