Common Rosacea Triggers that Cause Symptom Flare-Ups

By Laura Buford, MD February 5, 2019 No Comments

rosacea triggers

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes a persistent redness of the skin. Other symptoms can include small spider vein-like blood vessels visible in the face, a burning or stinging feeling in the face, flushing of the face, a red or bulbous nose, watery or irritable eyes and acne-like sores. While considered medically harmless, rosacea can be a source of embarrassment to sufferers.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for rosacea. There are, however, topical treatments that can minimize or control rosacea symptoms. Additionally, laser photo-rejuvenation therapy like pulse dye laser (PDL or Vbeam) or intense pulsed light (IPL) can work to improve the redness or discoloration of facial areas that persistently showcase symptoms.

While these treatments are beneficial, there are also ways for patients to minimize rosacea flare-ups and avoid their triggers. Many sufferers will notice that specific foods, weather, activities, and even certain emotional states trigger rosacea symptoms. Here is a list of common rosacea triggers:

Weather Triggers

  • Sunlight
  • Hot or humid weather
  • Windy or cold weather
  • Heat (from a furnace or heating unit)

Food & Drink Triggers

  • Alcohol (particularly red wine)
  • Hot (in terms of temperature) foods and drinks
  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy (cheese, yogurt, sour cream)
  • Chocolate
  • Liver
  • Eggplant, avocado, and spinach
  • Citrus fruits
  • Yeast
  • Foods high in histamine (includes pickled or fermented vegetables, kombucha, and cured or fermented meats)

Emotional Triggers

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Sudden changes of emotion

Activity Triggers

  • Strenuous exercise
  • Taking a hot bath or sitting in a hot tub
  • Swimming in chlorinated pool

Medical Condition Triggers

  • Certain prescription medications (vasodilators, topical steroids, etc.)
  • Menopause
  • Chronic coughing

Skin Care / Hair Care Triggers

  • Certain makeup, skin care, and hair care products (especially those that contain alcohol, witch hazel, or fragrances)

People that suffer from rosacea should focus on confirming their potential triggers by journaling or documenting how their skin reacts after being exposed to the common triggers listed above. The National Rosacea Society offers an online diary for this purpose.

Armed with an understanding of their triggers, patients can often make changes to their daily routines in order to help prevent flare-ups.


Laura Buford, MD

Laura Buford, MD attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, where she earned a Doctor of Medicine with Special Distinction. Dr. Buford is active in various medical organizations including the American Academy of Dermatology, the Texas Medical Association, and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. Her professional interests include adult and pediatric medical dermatology, skin cancer prevention and treatment, and cosmetic dermatology.


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