Rosacea Review - Newsletter of the National Rosacea SocietyRosacea Review - Newsletter of the National Rosacea Society

'Tis the Season for Winter Flare-ups

The redness of rosacea can be an uninvited guest for the holidays whether you live in icy Minnesota or sun-filled San Diego. From a blast of arctic air to the heat of the kitchen, the winter months pose a host of special conditions that can worsen rosacea symptoms unless precautions are taken.

"Regardless of location, rosacea sufferers need to manage their activities carefully to avoid flare-ups during the winter season," said Dr. Jerome Z. Litt, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "This not only applies to skiing or snow shoveling, but to moderating the flurry of activities surrounding the holidays."

In a National Rosacea Society survey of 683 rosacea sufferers on winter rosacea tripwires, exposure to wind was cited as the most common seasonal factor likely to aggravate rosacea, affecting 88 percent of all survey respondents -- including those living in mild and moderate climates as well as areas with severe winter weather. Cold weather affected 72 percent of all respondents, ranging from 80 percent in severe climates to 46 percent in areas where winters are mild.

Conversely, high indoor heat, which can be difficult to regulate in changing weather, had aggravated rosacea in 63 percent of the respondents in mild or moderate areas, while affecting 57 percent of those in severe climates.

One of the least obvious but most common winter tripwires is simple holiday stress, reported to affect 59 percent of rosacea sufferers regardless of weather.

Here are some tips for controlling winter's effect on rosacea symptoms:

  • Minimize time outdoors in inclement weather, and use a scarf or ski mask to protect the face from wind.

  • Wear loose, layered clothing to protect from both cold outdoor weather and indoor heat.

  • Use a sunscreen year round. Sun exposure is the most common rosacea tripwire, and can affect the face even in winter.

  • Avoid holiday stress. Pace yourself, and do not over-commit to activities.

  • Take cool-off breaks from holiday baking or cooking.

  • Limit consumption of heated beverages as well as alcohol, another common rosacea tripwire. Use an ice cube to lower the temperature.

  • Be sure to continue using rosacea medication consistently, as prescribed by your doctor.

Of the survey respondents who had modified their winter routines to avoid aggravating their rosacea, 93 percent said this had been successful in reducing flare-ups.