Winter Rosacea: Symptoms and Tips for Managing

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Wintertime is a season of extremes. Outside the weather can be freezing, with cold, biting winds. Inside the temperatures are much warmer, with the heat blasting, hot showers, warm kitchens and hot drinks. But for some, these extremes often cause flares of rosacea.

Along with redness and bumps on the face, rosacea can cause intense itching and burning, leaving those with rosacea more than uncomfortable.

No one knows the exact causes of rosacea, but scientists (and those who have rosacea) do know what common triggers can cause symptoms to flare. Winter weather, even in warm weather states, is often a time when rosacea symptoms worsen. The University of Utah website states, “Winter is a rough time for people with rosacea.”

Rosacea triggers aren’t the same for everyone. One person might find that eating spicy food triggers a flare; another might find that being out in the wind causes one. The National Rosacea Society surveyed people with rosacea about cold weather triggers. The results showed a number of common triggers:

  • 88 percent said that rosacea symptoms worsened on windy days, even those who lived in moderate climates.

  • 72 percent said cold weather affected rosacea symptoms.

  • 63 percent found high indoor heat aggravated symptoms.

Use sunscreen - year round. When the thermometer dips down below freezing, you might be tempted to skip the sunscreen but the sun’s rays can aggravate your skin no matter what the temperature outside. Make using sunscreen on your face part of your morning routine, no matter what the temperature and reapply later in the day.

Wear layers of clothing. For some people, overheating of their bodies can worsen rosacea. Wearing layers allows you to add and remove layers as you move from cold to warm or warm to cold without overheating or remaining cold.

Use scarves or a ski mask to protect your face from the cold weather. This is especially important on windy days as wind is extremely drying on your skin.

Allow your beverages to cool down a little before drinking them. After being out in the cold, you might look forward to a hot cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate but it might be better to give it a chance to cool down first.

Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. It might be necessary to make adjustments to your treatment during the winter months. Your doctor can also talk to you about which products, such as moisturizers and lotions, are best to use and whether the products you use should change with the seasons. Keep track of your symptoms so you have a record of when your symptoms worsen and improve.

Lower the temperature of showers and baths. Although a hot shower might feel really good on a cold morning, the hot water is definitely a common trigger for rosacea. Try to take lukewarm showers and baths instead.

Take breaks from the kitchen. You might enjoy cooking large, comforting meals during the cold months. Many people find this a good time to cook soups and stews but the heat in the kitchen can make rosacea symptoms flare. If you enjoy cooking, be sure to take regular breaks from the hot kitchen.

Keep the temperature in your house consistent. When it is freezing outside, it is tempting to turn up the heat or light a fire to keep warm but both of these can dry out your skin and cause your symptoms to flare. In addition, warm temperatures can increase the blood flow to your face, triggering flushing.

Use a humidifier. There are “whole house” humidifiers you can install which will work with your heater. If that isn’t possible, look for cool-mist humidifiers you can keep in each room to keep moisture in the air. There are also small, desktop humidifiers you can use at work.

Manage stress. For some people, stress is a trigger. Use stress relieving and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or yoga, to help lower your stress levels.

Keeping track of your daily activities, what you eat, the weather and rosacea symptoms can help you determine what your individual triggers are. By doing so, you can come up with strategies to avoid the triggers or modify treatment during certain times to help control symptoms.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.