I have very sensitive skin all of a sudden. Sometimes when I get out of bed in the morning, my cheeks are almost purple they are so red. What can I use to help? I can’t use products with niacinamide like Olay or CeraVe. Any suggestions?
With this much sensitivity and redness, I recommend that you get in with a dermatologist as soon as possible! What you’re describing sounds very much like rosacea to me, and you’ll likely need the help of a physician to get things under control.
What Is Rosacea?
Unfortunately, no one is really sure. You’ll see redness, hypersensitivity, prominent blood vessels (often even Telangiectasias), and you can even see pustules that are often mistaken for acne. Over time the skin on your nose can even thicken.
Your skin will be particularly sensitive to products, and skin care that might cause mild tingling for others, such as niacinamide, can cause much more redness and flares of irritation. The exact cause it not really known, though it does seem to run in families. Dr. Cynthia Bailey has a very helpful post on the symptoms of Rosacea.
Who Gets Rosacea?
It’s found most often in women between 30 and 60, usually of northern European descent, though it can be seen in any ethnicity. If you’re fair skinned, you’re much more likely to get rosacea.
How Can I Treat My Rosacea at Home?
At home you should be avoiding skin care ingredients that cause irritation. The exact ingredients depend upon the person. The most common culprits are niacinamide, retinoids, AHAs, BHAs, botanicals like tea tree oil, chemical peels and physical exfoliators like scrubs and even your Clarisonic.
Having rosacea doesn’t mean that you need to completely stop these skin care products. Instead, you should look to modify your skin care routine so your skin can tolerate them. Space out use of your Clarisonic to a few times a week and invest in the sensitive brush head. Trade out your retinoid for a lower percentage or an extended release version like RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream, $22.99. Rather than using the retinoid every night, try every other night or even every third night. If you want to keep using a niacinamide cream, try StriVectin. The company has altered the chemical molecule of niacinamide to make it more tolerable for those with sensitive skin.
You should stop using topical steroids and “anti-redness” products, which often contain steroids as well. While these products can offer immediate help, in the longer term they can cause your blood vessels to dilate and make redness worse.
Look for gentle skin care and products that help to soothe inflammation. Ingredients such as chamomile, feverfew, licorice extract, and green tea will help calm your skin. Even simple lifestyle changes like avoiding heat and steam (no more saunas) and spicy foods may help.
What Do I Do If Things Get Worse?
If you are still having redness, enlarged vessels, pustules or sensitivity then you should hightail it to your doctor. Many primary care doctors will prescribe initial medications before referring you on to a dermatologist, though more severe cases should go directly to a dermatologist. Options include topical antibiotics and even laser therapy.
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