Getting the red out

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I’m currently doing battle with what I’m pretty sure is my first-ever outbreak of roseaca—little satellites of tiny red bumps accompanied by redness are spread across both of my cheeks, which looks just about as charming as you might imagine—so yesterday I decided that a little something in the way of coverage was called for, and got myself to Sephora. Where, as it turns out, they’ve got a perfectly genius contraption, about the size of a Clairsonic, that takes an exact measurement of your skin tone, and suggests all of the items in store that match it. I tried about five different options—all tinted moisturizers; I can’t quite make the leap to foundation—and finally settled on this Amazonian Clay Tinted BB Moisturizer from Tarte, which quite deftly made the red disappear while staying on the sheer side. Now I just have to make the actual roseaca go away, and on that I’m totally stumped. I put it to you, readers: are there good over-the-counter remedies? Or do I just get myself to a dermatologist?

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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49 Thoughts on Getting the red out
    Liz K
    6 Mar 2014
    12:29pm

    I have mild rosacea (red cheeks & nose, no bumps) and when I first went to the dermatologist, the stuff he put me on was a disaster. I immediately threw it out! I eventually discovered Skinceuticals products which have been great. They have a serum called Phyto that is great when rosacea really flares up, and as a daily moisturizer I use their Redness Neutralizer. They also have a wonderful tinted sunblock that I use religiously. It is very lightweight and evens out my skintone beautifully. I have no affiliation but their products have worked great for me.

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    Amy
    6 Mar 2014
    12:31pm

    I’ve used Eucerin, which helped. Whatever you choose, licorice root extract should be one of the top ingredients.

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    eliza
    6 Mar 2014
    12:33pm

    I developed rosacea a few years ago (after I turned 40). I pay attention to outbreaks and what causes them; for me it’s dehydration, red wine and some make up. So I’ve re-focused on soothing my skin and deep moisturizing. So far I like Mario Badescu Rosehip Oil and Creme de la Mer (so expensive but I use very sparingly), I drink tons of water and more white wine than red, and I avoid powder and primer unless needed for an event, etc. A determatologist may be in my future too…

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    Stacy
    6 Mar 2014
    12:40pm

    My husband swears by the Rosaliac line from La Roche-Posay. He gets flare-ups from a combination of sugar/wheat or sugar/dairy – ice cream, donuts (all that good stuff).

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    Barbara
    6 Mar 2014
    12:51pm

    I love this Tarte product as well, and it helps with my Rosacea.. I also use Rosehip Oil (whole foods, $16.00) as a moisturizer, and it works very well. Good luck!

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    Anna F
    6 Mar 2014
    1:22pm

    I’ve had rosacea for years. Initially, I had an unhelpful diagnosis of “peri-oral dermatitis” as if a Latin name was all that was needed to tell me I had a rash around my mouth. Oy. Eventually, I got a rosacea diagnosis and a very effective multi-pronged approach to managing it that includes a sulphur-based wash, a topical gel, and a super low-grade oral antibiotic. Good luck.

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    Marsha
    6 Mar 2014
    1:22pm

    I began battling rosacea 15 years ago (inherited from my dad) and you absolutely HAVE to see a dermatologist at first…especially if you are experiencing the redness/bumps. When it first happened to me, I tried any number of over the counter moisturizers and remedies…but it would just come back worse the next time. There are several medications/treatments the doctor can put you one – some topical, some oral, and different combinations work for different people…but you need meds to get it under control (no matter what your “trigger”is — be it food, temperature, whatever). It took a a lot of years to control — and I always have to be careful with what moisturizers, serums or foundations I use — but now it’s in remission; no flare-ups in a long, long time. If you want it to eventually NOT be a part of your life, please take the advice of a huge fan and see a dermatologist. Good luck!

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    Kathy
    6 Mar 2014
    1:28pm

    I vote for the dermatologist. I have a prescription for Metronidazole .75 gel and it works quite well. I understand certain laser treatments can be quite effective. I find many natural products give me hives. Sorry, I am not giving up my red wine and strong coffee.

    A lot of prescription drugs for the skin are very effective and less expensive than over the counter stuff. I’ve used Retin A since I was in my mid-20’s and have very few wrinkles in spite of working in the sun.

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    Judi
    6 Mar 2014
    1:28pm

    Welcome to 50! For me, the Tarte didn’t work at all on my rosacea (it made it worse, honestly). I then discovered Boscia. I use Clarins gentle exfoliating cleanser, Pangea Organics toner (they all work equally well), Boscia Black Revitalizing Hydrating Gel, and Boscia BB. It’s the only BB that hasn’t made me break out, or made my rosacea worse. It also comes in a lighter shade (for victims of the long winter). Hope this helps.

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    Raegan
    6 Mar 2014
    1:45pm

    I have dealt with rosacea for over 20 years.
    Rosacea is managed not cured. The most effective treatment I have found are IPLs which keep it completely at bay for 5+ years at a time. It’s actually been 7 since my last IPL so it’s time for another series. Believe me, if I could find something more effective I would but everything else is a short temporary fix. However, the second best treatment I have found is very high grade (doesn’t smell) fish oil. I use half a capsule like serum before moisturizer or sunblock. It truly takes out the red and curtails the breakouts. But like everything else, it is a very temporary fix.

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      Katie
      11 Mar 2014
      4:30pm

      IPL works for me, but for maybe 2-4 months at a time.

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    Allison
    6 Mar 2014
    1:45pm

    My husband has been dealing with rosacea for the past few years. He basically solved it with diet (the whole 30 and then modified paleo – which is intense), but he also highly recommends Prosacea. Prosacea is drying so you need to add some moisturizer too.

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      Suz
      6 Mar 2014
      7:40pm

      Have your husband try CeraVe PM moisturizer then layer the prosacea over that – works perfectly without being too drying. I manage mine similar to your husband 🙂 Its a pain, but when I am not good with the diet – it comes back. Diet is HUGE as far as rosacea goes.

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    laura
    6 Mar 2014
    1:56pm

    I have found a few things that work for me. I almost never use a prescription on my rosacea.
    Vitamin C is great. Ole Hendrikson makes a great serum.
    Also, Clinque has this probiotic foundation that not only covers the red completely, but seems to actually reduce breakouts. It is a bit heavy, but I use it sparingly. For me it changed my life – magic
    Also, find the right cleanser – I use Philosophy but try gentle ones, it will make a difference.

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    ktcorz
    6 Mar 2014
    1:59pm

    Dermatologist visit. Invariably, I try 17 products and then decide I need an expert. Go straight to the person who spent 7 years earning an M.D., completing a residency focused on nothing but human skin and its ailments, and treating countless patients. Mine gave me something that helped rosacea and it went away. And having also recently celebrated my demi siecle birthday, there is the new joy of hot flashes that randomly bring on a W.C. Fields-ish red nose and cheeks – so flattering in the workplace and beyond. Finally, very glad to see a BB at Sephora w/ broad spectrum sunscreen – I’d visited and was told they didn’t carry one. Also in that category is the YSL BB, which has performed wonderfully on my skin.

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    Sarah
    6 Mar 2014
    2:00pm

    If you think you have rosacea, a reputable doctor should recommend that you get tested to rule out lupus, as rosacea can mimic lupus.

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    E E Faris
    6 Mar 2014
    2:44pm

    Absolutely see a dermatologist. There are many, many skin conditions and it is almost impossible for a layperson to differentiate. There may be a quick solution, or at least an effective solution, once you are sure what you have.

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      a.d.s.
      7 Mar 2014
      1:34pm

      I complete agree! A few years ago I had a skin condition that a dermatologist thought was rosacea and agressively treated. It just made my skin much, much worse. Like I didn’t want to go to holiday parties worse. Then my husband found a very good dermatologist who diagnosed the right problem and with a cream it was gone in a matter of weeks. Good luck, Kim!

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    Jamie
    6 Mar 2014
    2:54pm

    Dermatologist! I have the rosacea bumps too, and it took a couple of trips to the Derm to figure out what works best for me (after a few months of diagnosing + treating myself to no avail). And like noted above, you need to get a blood test to rule out something else like lupus.

    My regimen: a short round of antibiotics + prescription metrogel to get rid of the bumps. I maintain the results with religious application of sunscreen in the morning, an OTC anti-redness cream at night, and no soap on my face anymore (I just splash with water and then use Bioderma Sensibio to remove junk at night). Basically, I treat my face like a delicate, delicate baby and try to avoid using new products, which is kind of no fun. And I avoid red wine because I will wake up with an outbreak if I have more than a small glass.

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    Aparatchick
    6 Mar 2014
    3:23pm

    Tagging on to what Sarah says above, a doc should be able to rule out an allergic reaction to something you’re using on your skin as well.

    Love that Tarte TM.

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    amanda s
    6 Mar 2014
    4:33pm

    See a dermatologist, and then get Darphin rosewood cleansing balm, Replenex CF serum (or cream, depending on how oily your skin may be), and Josie Maran organic Argan Oil. My skin is on the oily side, but these products are gentle, and provide enough moisture so that my skin isn’t fighting with itself to regulate oil production, yet won’t break me out. The Replenex for some reason is a magic elixir for my very mild rosacea.

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    Erin
    6 Mar 2014
    4:54pm

    As I was recently diagnosed with a different autoimmune disorder that also appeared very suddenly, I just want to echo the suggestion that others are sharing that you see a doctor about this. I don’t want to scare you, but several autoimmune disorders other than lupus also have rash symptoms that often get ignored or missed as being symptoms of something greater at the time they occur. So I think seeing a doctor is a very smart idea.

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    Flowers
    6 Mar 2014
    4:59pm

    I was miserable with rosacea for 2 years; the bumps the redness, the just plain soreness. I tried 2 dermatologists, antibiotic pills and creams, laser (I looked fabulous, it didn’t last), Retin A and all the over the counter creams and diets possible. Turns out, my rosacea is all hormonal. The smallest amount of progesterone cream possible 5 nights out of 7 and it’s done. If I forget the progesterone? It’s here-we-go-again time. And sunscreen, always sunscreen.

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    Johanna
    6 Mar 2014
    5:16pm

    Dermatologist, definitely, before it gets worse!

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    Lori
    6 Mar 2014
    5:21pm

    Be aware that there are conditions that look like rosacea but are not in fact rosacea. I have a condition that causes some rosacea like symptoms but is not rosacea. I used prescription creams for years with only minimal benefits. I started using Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Face Cream a few years ago and it is the only thing that keeps my skin under control.

    Also, for me red wine causes flares, so I’ve switched over completely to bubbly!

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    gt
    6 Mar 2014
    5:37pm

    See a dermatologist and ask about Avar-E a green tinted creme that helps cover and cure the rosacea.

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    Janet
    6 Mar 2014
    5:54pm

    I have had Rosacea for over 20 years. I would recommend seeing a dermatologist, but what they typically give you is a steroid cream. In my experience, it will work well for a while and then stop. I ended up going to a nutritionist and that worked wonders. I now watch what I eat, use organic apple cider vinegar (watered down) on my skin as a toner and take zinc. Any product containing zinc is good for my skin. I have to avoid anything with witch hazel.

    Good luck. As someone else said, if it is truly Rosacea (and I hope it is not), it is only managed, not cured.

    Janet

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    Viajera
    6 Mar 2014
    7:01pm

    If it turns out the diagnosis is rosacea, you might want to also check out the section on it in Dr. Jessica Wu’s book on what to eat for healthy skin. It’s called “Feed Your Face.” She’s got some interesting suggestions.

    I started reading it b/c I was finally getting into this business of parabens and so forth, and I was looking for a healthy way to exfoliate. I snooped around on the EWG website and it finally occurred to me, I should just figure out what European and Japanese women use, since companies aren’t allowed to poison people in Europe. Why reinvent wheels.

    And then I thought, shouldn’t someone have a website for that? And, you-all here are the ones to ask. Has somebody already done this? I kind of have trust issues with the internet. I don’t want to just believe everything on it, you know?

    Don’t get me wrong, the research is fun too. I am also reading “The Japanese Skincare Revolution,” I think it’s called. (It’s downstairs.) Lymph massage — who knew??? (Not me!) It’s kinda fun. Weird but fun.

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    Suz
    6 Mar 2014
    7:22pm

    Oh, that sucks. Welcome to the (crappy) club. I have rosacea as well – the best thing I discovered was the online forums for it – I am self treating mainly as the typical derm method of handling rosacea is to put you on antibiotics for life (not good for the GI tract where it seems the root of rosacea actually is) It may be useful to go and get your rosacea type confirmed. Most people I know had mixed results if any from prescription creams. Diet changes, supplements and natural oils seem to do a much better job.

    The bumps would indicate type 2 (I have the same) My sister has type one goes to the derm, takes meds, no diet changes – and she is a bright red christmas elf facially. I have the odd red blotch but am managing. So – I would vote self care. But that is just me.

    I would recommend CeraVe hydrating cleanser (any drug store) to calm and restore your skins moisture.Its something I have come to depend on. Also virgin pressed coconut oil is massively helpful as a treatment and a moisturizer. Sulfur creams (prosacea over the counter) also do a great job on the bumps. I second the organic apple cider vinegar use and zinc (both internally and in sunblock form – the zinc helps a lot) Oh, and flaxseed oil is great as a supplement to calm things.

    A lot of rosacea care is daily management.

    Basically many of the issues with rosacea seem to be digestive/GI tract – malabsorption issues likely due to a mishap in the intestines (look up SIBO). Typically people with rosacea are low in zinc and b vitamins, especially B12 – regardless of diet. They are not being processed properly.

    Seriously I would go google the online forum – http://www.rosaceagroup.org and start reading. Sephora and the like are not going to be that useful as rosacea skin tends to be very reactive. Also, the people there know makeup; unless you get someone who actually has rosacea they are going to rec acne cures and the like.

    I am so sorry this happened. Hopefully you can find a management system that works for you. I have had rosacea 3 years now and I do have hope of resolving it at some point (I am stubborn)

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    LiLi
    6 Mar 2014
    8:04pm

    I agree with what Suz says, it seems to have to do with an imbalance in the digestive/GI tract for me at least.

    Here are some things that I found helpful:
    -Tea tree oil blend patted on at night
    -Herpanacine capsules (basically a lysine and zinc blend)
    -Doing the Junger “Clean” cleanse and adding in some supplements from Clean Gut: berberine and monolaurin
    -Moisturizing with Paula’s Choice hydrating mask as a moisturizer
    -Alternate moisturizing with Argan oil
    -Physical sunblock

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    Colleen
    6 Mar 2014
    8:17pm

    DERMATOLOGIST!!! It’s your face…..can’t be hidden with crafty cardigans or really, anything else.

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    Lisa
    6 Mar 2014
    9:24pm

    For me, after some OTC stuff, it was a dermatologist. Fixed, and fixed forever.

    BTW, it was clearly, in retrospect, a perimenopausal signal. You’re welcome;).

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    shan
    6 Mar 2014
    11:01pm

    While I don’t have rosacea, I do have a very nasty autoimmune skin disease. I have seen the best dermatologist in the area and been prescribed steroid creams/ointments together with weekly laser treatments, all to no avail. Running out of ideas, my dermatologist finally suggested I see a nutritionist. The results have been amazing! I haven’t experienced any outbreaks and have had an incredible improvement in my overall health. He has weaned me off most of the prescriptions I was taking and encouraged me to have a food allergy test (expensive). We discovered I had an allergy to egg whites and egg yolks. Diet and intestinal health have so much to do with the causes of skin conditions, which are only symptoms of the underlying internal conditions which must be treated first.

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    Dana D
    7 Mar 2014
    12:51am

    Doxycyclene pills from the dermatologist…after 4 years of every anti-red cream and cleanser. After metro gel and laser. Wish I would have taken the pills early on…

    I admire folks who do diet modification and gut cleansing but if a little pill can make my skin look better, I’m going for that first.

    I also think rosacea is highly individualized, so go the doctor and begin the discussion now…

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    Maggie
    7 Mar 2014
    8:42am

    You definitely need to see a derm to make sure you know what’s going on. What works for me is using as few products as possible. I wipe my face down with olive oil on a cotton ball to both cleans and moisturize and my skin looks pretty damn good.

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    Jessie
    7 Mar 2014
    9:54am

    I found argan oil, rose hip oil & sea buckthorn oil work well. My breakouts happen right before “that time of the month”, so I think mine is triggered by hormones. I stay away from anything drying & use cleansing oil to wash my face. Good luck!

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    Barbara
    7 Mar 2014
    4:09pm

    Ah, rosacea, so much fun, and everybody responds differently. Having battled it for about 15 years, these are my two cents: see a dermatologist. Mine is wonderful who only goes to drugs (antibiotics/steriod creams) as a last resort. Still haven’t gone there personally. Diet is huge. When I quit wheat, my skin improved drastically. Reading these posts, I was reminded that I ran out of probiotics two weeks ago, and have had nasty red bumps on on cheek for a week. Hmmmm. Fragrance-free everything and no chemical sunscreens. CeraVe hydrating cleanser is my god, their moisterizers are good too. And skinceuticals for extra kicks. I think the vitamin C helps. GOod luck!

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    Barbara
    7 Mar 2014
    4:10pm

    Second note to all other commenters: THANK YOU. It’s nice to remember I am not the only one dealing with bumpy red skin. Your suggestions are helpful, too.

    Happy weekend, all.

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    Caroline
    7 Mar 2014
    9:22pm

    A new dermatologist prescribed Finacea for my rosacea, which was mild/but progressing at the time. I had been using Metrogel as prescribed by another dermatologist, which only ever provided minimal relief, and over time, even that diminished. Finacea has changed my skin entirely, and I couldn’t be happier! No more red bumps and pustules at all! I tell people that it has literally changed my life – I no longer use heavy foundation or coverup. Just a bit of Tarte BB Cream, actually, and that’s all I need now:) Please check it out! Just FYI, when I lived in NYC, no dermatologist ever mentioned or prescribed it, but when I moved to New England, it was the first thing my new dermatologist brought up and it was crazy expensive so I was a little hesitant. But no more – it is worth every penny!

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    Janelle
    8 Mar 2014
    11:55am

    Hi! I too deal with this, and have found using metro gel, a anti inflammatory gel I get via prescription fom my dermatologist helps immensely. Mine is early stage and this gel has KEPT it early stage. Best to you!!

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    Margot
    8 Mar 2014
    12:19pm

    I too have had bouts of rosacea, along with increasingly sensitive skin – it was worst when I was living in a very dry climate. After much trial and error I found Pratima skincare (based in NYC – I think they’re in Soho? I’ve always ordered online). Their ayurvedic products for rosacea and sensitive skin smell lovely and work beautifully for me. I’d highly recommend stopping in and taking a peek.

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    Leslie
    8 Mar 2014
    12:26pm

    Dermatologist!!! If you are unwilling to give up wine and coffee (then why live) just hit the laser at the Dermo. Great results!

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    jamie
    8 Mar 2014
    6:06pm

    I’ve had rosacea for 20 years: Everything the derm will give you (in my experience) will cease working as soon as you cease taking it, so unless you want to be on antibiotics for the rest of your life (you don’t), treat the cause, not the symptoms. Do an elimination diet to figure out what flares it up, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of sleep. Use products with the fewest amount of ingredients (fewer individual things for your skin to react to)– some Sephora angel turned me on to Tarte’s mineral based powder and it is THE BEST I have ever used. I also use an activated charcoal soap which has worked wonders! Good luck!

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      Viajera
      9 Mar 2014
      7:38pm

      Does anybody know for sure how long you have to eliminate something, on an elimination diet?

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        jamie
        11 Mar 2014
        1:04pm

        I would go at least 2 weeks, maybe 4. Once I gave up dairy it helped IMMENSELY and I can totally tell when I’ve had too much sugar (and that includes alcohol) by the little red bumps on the apples of my cheeks! Sad but true….

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          Viajera
          12 Mar 2014
          12:33pm

          Thanks!!! I just went for 2 weeks without milk (well I did have a couple small slip-ups … some parmy cheese and some ice cream).

          It seems to have made a sizable difference to my morning congestion and eye irritation and undereye puffiness. However … I really like dairy and I will probably go back. I’m going to start with yogurt. Maybe it will turn out just to be milk, if I’m lucky.

          Thanks again!

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    Anne
    9 Mar 2014
    7:58pm

    Yes, yes, yes to a derm who knows rosacea. I’ve been to docs who are did not help at all, but a good one is worth her weight! There are many good treatments they can recommend. I’ve done a couple rounds of Oracea w/ good results, but now prefer to manage it with diet & skin care. I keep to a low inflammation diet (FODMAPS – it’s primarily for IBS, sorry if that’s TMI!), and 100% recommend Paula’s Choice skin care products. There’s a line just for rosacea that’s done wonders for me. Keep us posted!

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    Barbara
    12 Mar 2014
    11:52am

    Definitely go to the dermatologist. I had rosacea that I tried to cure with OTC lotions and potions and herbal supplements for years. When the doctor walked into the examination room she said, “you have severe rosacea” Fast forward 1.5 years– I am using Finacea lotion on my face twice a day (great results, but it burns when you first apply it for about the first two weeks), taking 100 mg of doxicycline daily–evidently the body needs this to quell the rosacea inflammation. And have had two treatments of IPL therapy. All in all, I wished I had whacked this along time ago…it has changed my life as the rosacea made me very self conscious. Good luck!

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