Rosacea Sunscreen Guide
The sun has its benefits, however for rosacea patients it is the #1 trigger of their symptoms and therefore the most prevalent factor in worsening skin disease.
My rosacea patients who successfully avoid incremental, incidental sun damage and exposure year-round have demonstrably better outcomes than those who fail to protect themselves from the sun, irrespective of any other factors contributing to their rosacea.
Optimal sunscreen use contributes to the success of all other rosacea treatments which may be employed: topical and systemic drugs, laser, IPL (intense pulsed light) and general skin care.
Although the cause of rosacea is not known and likely extremely complex, dermatologists can say with certainty that it is a photosensitive disorder.
Accordingly, if we choose the sunscreens we use carefully and use them daily, we already have an extremely effective treatment for rosacea, and it is one which works by the superior method of prevention.
In addition, when patients use sunscreens daily to treat their rosacea, they also prevent the most obvious signs of skin aging (wrinkling, fine lines, colour and textural changes) by the most effective means currently available.
What Is Optimal Sunscreen Use in Rosacea Treatment?
Optimal use results in prevention of rosacea flare-ups, the prevention of blood vessel damage and great reductions in skin's reactivity, sensitivity, inflammation, redness and the prevalence of papules, pustules and broken capillaries.
Over the years I have refined a criteria for selecting an effective sunscreen for rosacea treatment, the technical details of which are elborated elsewhere on this website.
By following these criteria and making a careful selection of the sunscreens you use you'll reach the relatively inexpensive truth of what can really be meant by the generic recommendation that "sunscreen benefits rosacea" and radically alter the future of your skin.
"Even small amounts of sun exposure can cause problems for rosacea patients" — See Sunscreen, Other Measures Reduce Flare-Ups at the National Rosacea Society's Websiite, Rosacea.Org.
"Individuals with rosacea are often uniquely sensitive to topical preparations applied to the face" — See Sun Protection May Require Proper Sunscreen at Rosacea.Org.
I believe the most peritent point about UV exposure which patients fail to adequately grasp is that it is incremental exposure to daylight (through glass, for example while making brief trips in the car), over months and years, and not just warm or hot direct sun, which makes a lasting, negative impression on skin's age and the severity of rosacea symptoms.
Recommended Rosacea Sunscreens
Sunscreen formulations have been changing more frequently than usual as maximum marketable SPF numbers have been revised and as the FDA has mandated changes to labels.
I do not recommend any particular brand or product, but direct patients to this selection guide.
Sunscreen chemicals and ingredients are common to many brands across different markets, in large part because there are only a few manufacturers of sunscreen chemicals, and because large cosmetic companies often own several brands.
I have noticed that L'Oreal replicates identical sunscreen formulas under different brand names.
Other sections of the website provide more technical and academic sunscreen information.
Rosacea Sun Protection References
My findings and recommendations are based on clinical experience and academic research.
Below are some references which may be of interest and assistance to pharmacists, medical students and other medical professionals.
Nichols K, Desai N, Lebwohl MG: Effective sunscreen ingredients and cutaneous irritation in patients with rosacea. Cutis. 1998;61:344-346.
Neumann E, Frithz A: Capillaropathy and capillaroneogenesis in the pathogenesis of rosacea. International Journal of Dermatology. 1998;37:263-266.
Kosmadaki MG, Yaar M, Arble BL, Gilchrest BA. UV induces VEGF through a TNF-alpha independent pathway. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. 2003;17:446-448.
Millikan L: Recognizing rosacea. Postgraduate Medicine. 1999;105:149-158.
You can also see this complete list of references for rosacea and sunscreen.
Author: Jeremy Cleckley