Good skin care is essential to management of rosacea and no step is more critical than cleansing. Cleansing helps remove potential triggers of rosacea from the skin most notably P. acnes – the bacteria that can cause acne and rosacea flares – and Pityrosporum – a yeast found normally on the skin but can stimulate reaction in some patients with rosacea. Thus the goals of good cleansing are to remove excess oils, environmental debris, dead skin cells, unwanted organisms and residue from makeup, sunscreen etc. The challenge is achieving these goals but not going too far and stripping necessary, healthy components from the skin. The advice below discusses cleansing based on skin type.

Dry, sensitive skin:

Use a cream cleanser or mildly foaming cleanser. Avoid soap as this is too drying and irritating for your skin. Use your fingers to massage cleanser into skin or to create lather to then apply to face and then rinse with lukewarm water. Use of a wash cloth is not recommended for rosacea prone skin as this can disrupt the normal skin barrier and trigger a flare of redness and inflammation. If you have really dry skin think about using a wipe off, water free cleanser such as Avene’s extremely gentle cleanser no rinse formula.

Oily Skin:

Some patients with rosacea have numerous and active oil glands – what we call “sebaceous skin”. These overactive oil glands can create a lot of oil on the surface. Cleansing can remove the oil that is present at the time of cleansing but does nothing to prevent more oil from building up on the skin. Over-cleansing with a harsh soap or with a scrubbing with a washcloth will not prevent oil and will strip the skin of its natural barrier function, creating dry, flaky and even irritated skin that still becomes oily several hours after cleansing. Often the best option is using a gentle foaming cleanser – like a liquid cleanser rather than a soap bar – and if you are very oily do a cleansing cycle twice. Cleansing twice will remove more of the unwanted materials from the surface of the skin and less of the components that are essential for moisture.

Normal Skin:

For the most part, your cleansing routine can be similar to the oily skin but no more than one cleansing cycle; however, if you are prone to dry areas, following the advice for dry skin will probably work best for you. Also seasonal variations in your skin may guide your cleansing routine – dry routine in fall and winter and the oily skin routine in the summer.

Cleansers we love:

Avene’s Anti-Redness Dermo-Cleansing Fluid: Formulated especially for sensitive and redness-prone skin. This cleanser smoothes and calms the skin while gently cleaning it and removing impurities.


Avene’s Extremely Gentle Cleanser: This is great for dry skin! You don’t even have to rinse it off, just gently wipe off and finish with a spritz of the Avene Thermal Spring Water.


Skin Ceuticals Simply Clean: This cleanser is great if you have oily or combination skin. It contains botanical extracts of chamomile and aloe to help soothe and heal skin.


Skin Ceuticals Gentle Cleanser: This is a mild cream cleanser that soothes and calms irritated skin. It removes impurities and excess oil without drying the skin.


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