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Common Causes of Rosacea

Common Causes of Rosacea

Rosacea is a dermatologic condition that irritates skin on your face. Rosacea flare-ups look like flushing and redness, visible blood vessels under your skin, or even pimple-like red bumps.

While it’s a common skin issue that affects more than 14 million Americans, experts aren’t sure what causes rosacea. Your genetics, your immune system, and your environment may play a role, but anyone can develop rosacea during their lifetime.

The good news is that there are a handful of known rosacea triggers, and if you have rosacea, avoiding those triggers can reduce your symptoms.

John Cheesborough, MD, Dawn Kleinman, MD, and our team at Sanford Dermatology are here to help you find an effective rosacea treatment plan. Here, we describe the common causes of rosacea flare-ups so you can better manage the condition.

The most common rosacea triggers

Everyone is different, but some common factors that can cause rosacea flare-ups are:


People with rosacea tend to have sensitive skin. Certain ingredients found in cleansers, lotions, makeup, and other skin and hair products may trigger redness. To reduce the chance of aggravating your rosacea from cosmetics, try switching to fragrance-free products and avoid harsh aesthetic treatments like chemical peels.

Foods and beverages

Some of the most common rosacea triggers are foods and beverages. Alcohol can dilate your blood vessels, and hot beverages can raise your body temperature, both of which can leave you with facial redness.

Spicy food is another common cause. In fact, up to 75% of people with rosacea find that spicy food makes their symptoms worse. That spiciness comes from a chemical called capsaicin, which can make your skin red and warm and triggers rosacea flare-ups.


The environment around you is another trigger. Exposure to UV rays in direct sunlight can cause flushing. Extreme weather conditions — like hot temperatures, cold temperatures, and high winds — can also make rosacea worse. Protecting your skin from the sun and extreme weather can help reduce those flare-ups.

Exercise and stress

Both physical and mental stress can affect your skin. High-intensity exercise elevates your body temperature, and it may also trigger facial redness that lasts long after your workout. High emotional stress and strong emotions can also lead to a rosacea flare-up.


Some medications, particularly those that treat high blood pressure, work by dilating your blood vessels. If you have rosacea, taking these medications could make your symptoms worse. Alternative medications may be available, but always talk with your health care team before you stop taking any prescriptions.

Finding relief from your rosacea symptoms

The best approach to treating rosacea is a holistic one. Our team starts by reviewing your symptoms and your medical history, and then we work with you to create a customized treatment plan.

Avoiding your rosacea triggers can make a big difference and cut down the number of flare-ups you experience. We may also prescribe medication to treat symptoms like acne, redness, and infection. Along with these measures, we can help you find clinical-grade skin care products to soothe your skin. 

It’s not clear why some people get rosacea and others don’t, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with embarrassing rosacea flare-ups. Book a consultation with our team at Sanford Dermatology to get started on a journey to more even-toned skin.

Call our offices in Sanford, Lillington, or Pittsboro, North Carolina, for your first appointment. You can also book an appointment online for the Pittsboro location.

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