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How to manage rosacea, dry skin and other seasonal flare-ups, according to BestReviews skin care expert

Expertly reviewed by Alina Zufall

Cold air, harsh winds, low humidity and dry heat inside your home or workplace all contribute to winter skin issues. It's common to get dry skin and flare-ups of rosacea and other skin conditions, but you don't just have to put up with it. 

BestReviews skin care expert Dr. Alina Zufall has given the lowdown on common seasonal skin flare-ups and what to do about them. Armed with this knowledge, your skin can stay healthier year-round. 

In this article: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, Biossance 100% Squalane Oil and The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA.

How to manage rosacea in winter

Zufall says, "Many things can cause rosacea to flare, including temperature and climate changes. The cold, dry winter air causes everyone’s skin to lose moisture and become chapped and sensitive. This is heightened in people with rosacea, who already have very sensitive skin." Zufall has a number of tips to manage rosacea in winter. 

  • Protect yourself from the wind and cold. Harsh winds can cause rosacea to flare, so Zufall recommends covering your face with a scarf or mask. 
  • Keep your skin hydrated. You should use a gentle moisturizer two to three times a day and drink plenty of water. 
  • Wear sunscreen and reapply. Zufall says, "The sun is still your biggest enemy, even in the wintertime. Sun exposure causes everyone with rosacea to flare. Protecting yourself from the sun is the number one way to keep your rosacea under control."
  • Wash with gentle cleansers, not harsh soaps. Soap strips moisture from the skin. Zufall's advice is to use gentle moisturizing cleansers or soap-free cleansing bars to clean the skin and face and to avoid those with added fragrance. 
  • Use a sulfur or low-potency micronized benzoyl peroxide wash. Zufall advises, "Sulfur washes are great for rosacea because it reduces inflammation and has antimicrobial effects. Benzoyl peroxide used to be considered too irritating for rosacea, but new gentle, micronized forms of benzoyl peroxide are proving to be very safe and very effective in reducing inflammation and acne bumps in rosacea."
  • Don’t use hot water. Wash your face with lukewarm water to avoid temperature changes that can cause rosacea to flare. 
  • Test first, then apply. Zufall says, "Rosacea-prone skin is very sensitive and reactive, so even some of the gentlest products can cause issues. To test a product, use a small amount on the side of your face. If it causes significant irritation or remains irritated after a few days, it would be best to avoid that product." 

How to manage dry skin in winter

Here's Zufall's advice on how to manage seasonal dry skin. 

  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. It seems straightforward, but moisturize regularly to avoid and treat dry skin. Zufall says, "I like creams and ointments better than lotions because they have a higher percentage of occlusive ingredients so they lock in moisture better."
  • Product ingredients matter. Choose fragrance-free products without harsh chemical ingredients. Even natural ingredients, such as certain essential oils, can be drying to those with sensitive skin. 
  • Decrease your shower frequency and don’t use hot water. Regarding showering, Zufall says, "Frequent showering strips away healthy oils from the skin and dehydrates it further. Hot water will exacerbate this process."
  • Protect your hands. Frequent hand-washing mixed with wintry conditions can cause rashes and painful cracked skin. Zufall recommends a thick petrolatum-based hand cream or ointment three to four times daily, including after every time you wash your hands. 

Other seasonal flare-ups and what to do about them

These other skin complaints are common in winter, but Zufall has advice on what to do about them. 

  • Contact dermatitis: Zufall says, "Contact dermatitis is a rash that is due to something that the skin comes in contact with, either causing irritation or allergic reaction. This type of rash can happen any time of year, but it is common to get an irritant contact dermatitis of the hands in the winter due to the dry air combined with frequent hand washing with harsh soaps." She suggests moisturizing your hands frequently. 
  • Folliculitis: This is an infection or inflammation of the hair follicles that looks like small red bumps on the skin. It's more common in winter due to dry winter skin and friction from tight-fitting clothing. You can help avoid this by wearing loose, breathable clothing, washing with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser daily and keeping your skin well-moisturized. 
  • Cheilitis: More commonly known as chapped lips, this is a common concern in winter. Zufall says, "Protect your lips with fragrance-free, dye-free lip balm, preferably with sunscreen in it during the day to also protect from sunburn. If they do become chapped, apply a moisturizing lip balm (or even just plain Vaseline) at nighttime with a little hydrocortisone mixed in it."

Best winter skin care products

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser

This ultra-calming cleanser is recommended by Zufall as a suitable choice of cleanser for people with rosacea. It's gentle and calming with a fragrance-free formula that won't exacerbate the issue. 

Sold by Amazon

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Fragrance-Free Daily Facial Moisturizer

Recommended by Zufall, this gentle moisturizer is made for people with rosacea, psoriasis and general sensitive skin. It hydrates skin to avoid winter dryness. 

Sold by Amazon

Cetaphil Gentle Clear Complexion-Clearing BPO Acne Cleanser

Since it contains micronized benzoyl peroxide, Zufall recommends this cleanser for rosacea for its ability to reduce inflammation and acne bumps. 

Sold by Target

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen is important in winter for a range of skin issues, including rosacea and dry skin. This sunscreen is fragrance-free and non-greasy. 

Sold by Amazon

TrueLipids Lip Balm for Dry Lips

Zufall recommends this ultra-moisturizing lip balm for anyone struggling with chapped lips or who wants to avoid them occurring over the winter. 

Sold by Amazon

Avene Eau Thermale XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cream

Another intensive moisturizer recommended by Zufall for dry skin, this one replaces the lipids that are often lost in cold weather, leading to cracking and dryness. 

Sold by Amazon 

Biossance 100% Squalane Oil

Natural and gentle, this squalane oil is among Zufall's top products for tackling seasonal dry skin. It's appropriate for moisturizing the face and body. 

Sold by Amazon and Sephora

Neutrogena Stubborn Acne AM Face Treatment

Thanks to its micronized form of benzoyl peroxide, this is a gentle choice of cleanser for folks with rosacea. 

Sold by Amazon

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

Consisting of naturally moisturizing minerals and hydrating hyaluronic acid, this is a super moisturizer for keeping on top of dry skin. 

Sold by Amazon and Sephora


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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