Dr. Bailey, I am in my mid-30's and starting to see some aging in my skin. Also, I have rosacea and my skin is very sensitive/reactive. Is it possible for me to use an exfoliator to remove facial dead skin, which is making my face look dull and dry? Also, would using an Exfoliating Sponge with my facial cleanser be too harsh?
Thank you for your time, Ames
Rosacea makes skin very sensitive, which you've noticed! That said, I'm often able to help my rosacea patients find anti-aging skin care options and create an effective anti-aging skin care program that works with their rosacea. Gentle exfoliation with something like an Exfoliating Facial Sponge is one of the options I use for my rosacea patients. It is not my top choice because rosacea skin is so easily triggered by even the gentlest pressure. I prefer to brighten dull rosacea-prone skin with retinol or another retinoid.
Retin A, retinol and rosacea
Exfoliating with a retinoid may be a good choice for rosacea. This family of ingredients exfoliates skin without friction. Retinoids are also less likely to irritate rosacea than acid pH exfoliating products like AHAs (glycolic acid).
I have good luck treating most of my rosacea patients with retinoids such as Retinol or tretinoin cream (Retin A Cream) as their primary anti-aging skin care product. The trick is to calm the rosacea first using supportive products such as Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy, and Calming Zinc Soap.
Skin care options to start using Retin A or retinol and rosacea
I control the rosacea first for a few months using calming products such as those in my Rosacea Therapy Skin Care Kit. When the rosacea is in remission, I then sneak in the tretinoin or retinol cream. We start it once or twice a week and slowly advance to nightly. If the rosacea starts to flare up, we stop the tretinoin/retinol, calm down the rosacea then resume. The Retinol is much easier to add than Retin A because it is proven to be less irritating.
It's not easy, but it is worth it because tretinoin/retinol cream has such wonderful anti-aging properties, which I've discussed in the past.
I created my Rosacea Therapy Skin Care Kit to help my rosacea patients. This kit contains:
- Calming Zinc and a pH balanced cleanser to alternate
- the Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy to help calm rosacea inflammation
- Daily Moisturizing Face Cream, which is the best moisturizer to heal and protect damaged skin barrier suffering from rosacea, and
- the best zinc oxide sunscreen to protect skin from UV triggered rosacea flares.
By covering all of the basis that drive rosacea from the outside of your skin, it is easier to sneak in the retinoid!
Each patient's skin is unique and I customize the approach based on what they can tolerate. Rosacea is easy to provoke and so there is no way to predict how a person will do. I of course can't say if your skin would tolerate this anti aging options and I recommend that you see a dermatologist for specific recommendations and treatments.
For more information on how I coach my patients on the use of tretinoin cream you may want to read my post How To Correctly Use Retin A (tretinoin) For Acne and Anti-Aging Skin Care.
I hope that helps. Best of luck!
Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist
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