Mariah Carey Cameron Diaz Rosacea

Both Mariah Carey (left) and Cameron Diaz (right) have Rosacea. Photos: Getty Images | Soul Brother

If you're one of the over 16 million Americans who suffers from the red acne-like inflammatory condition known as rosacea, embarrassing flare-ups have probably put a damper on many of your days.

According to studies by The National Rosacea Society, over 76% of patients have complained of lowered self-esteem, while 41% say that self-consciousness over the nagging condition has even caused them to cancel social plans and avoid going out in public.

Rosacea is most often marked by flushing on the cheeks, nose, forehead or chin, as well as by small clusters of bumps and visible spider-like blood vessels. Patients may also suffer from watery eyes and a swollen, bulbous red nose.

While the cause and cure for rosacea are still unknown, most dermatologists recommend that common triggers be avoided in order to control and minimize the symptoms.

StyleList asked two dermatologist experts - Dr. Debra Jaliman of Manhattan, New York, and Dr. Diane Walder of Bay Harbor Islands, Florida for the five biggest don'ts that rosacea patients should avoid.

1. Skip spices, red wine and beer. "Avoid spicy food, tomatoes, citrus, red wine and beer, as this tends to flare rosacea. Alcohol is a vasodilator that will redden the face and make rosacea much worse." advises Dr. Jaliman. "If you do feel flushed while eating and drinking, you can suck on an ice cube, which can help improve flushing," adds Dr. Walder.

2. Avoid soaps and harsh exfoliating treatments. "Microdermabrasion and chemical peels will irritate your skin and cause it to be redder," says Dr. Jaliman. "Pick a foaming cleanser with antioxidants, like caffeine, green tea and Coenzyme Q10, which are calming and soothing to the skin," advises Dr. Walder. Citrix makes a rich, soap-free cleanser that features both green tea and Coenzyme Q10.

3. Stay clear of direct sun and chemical sunscreens. "I tell patients with rosacea to use sunscreens that do not contain avobenzone, benzophenone or octyl methoxycinnamate, as these can cause burning, itching and redness," says Dr. Walder. Instead, look for a sunscreen that contains zinc or titanium oxide and has an SPF 30 or higher protection, advises Dr. Jaliman.

4. Say no to saunas and steam baths. The steam and heat will exacerbate rosacea by further inflaming and reddening the face, says Dr. Jaliman. Hot water has the same effect, so keep any water that hits your face closer to a mild and tepid temperature, especially when cleansing.


Photo: Getty Images

5. Avoid extended exposure to extreme temperatures. Hot sun rays aren't the only climate trigger; very cold temperatures have also been found to worsen rosacea just as badly. When in the cold, our bodies pump blood harder in order to keep warm. When we re-enter warmth, our faces are quick to heat up, and with the cardiovascular system still pumping hard, a rosacea sufferer will see redness flare as too much heat overloads in the face. If you must be outside, be sure to have a cozily wrapped scarf protecting your face in the cold and a sun umbrella in tow during the warm weather months.

If you want a more aggressive solution to rosacea symptoms -- and have some extra bucks on hand -- a host of different kinds of lasers have been successfully used by dermatologists to lessen symptoms of redness, enlarged blood vessels and the thickened skin that often results. The catch? Laser treatments aren't covered by insurance companies, and can reach into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. But for the best results today's technology can offer, lasers can't be beat. StyleList recommends finding a board-certified dermatologist for a consultation if you go this route.

The market is also filled with an abundance of creams and lotions that claim to lessen and control the stinging signs of rosacea. Yet diligence is required to see palpable results; creams must be applied regularly and correctly.

Pyratine XR is one of the newest and talked-about products on the market, claiming to improve skin texture, redness and irritation with a potent and soothing plant-based antioxidant ingredient. Formulations come in both a cream and lotion as well as a gentle cleanser, and the brand claims users will see results in just days with consistent use.

Our advice? Choose your strategy to improve and control your symptoms, and then get back in the game -- because no one should feel like they have to sit on the sidelines of life.