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. Because rosacea skin is so easily triggered it's important to use only the gentlest pressure and a very mild cleanser with the Facial Sponge. I like the Exfoliating Sponge used in the morning so that a person can enjoy the bright, exfoliated skin texture during the day. My rosacea patients may only be able to use the Sponge twice a week, but that's still a nice exfoliation to remove the dull dead cells.
I also 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. In my experience, patients with rosacea are much more able to tolerate retinoids such as retinol and tretinoin cream than an acid pH product like AHA's or vitamin C. I find that the trick to getting rosacea prone skin to tolerate a retinoid is to use supportive products to calm the rosacea such as Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy, and Calming Zinc Soap. I control the rosacea first for a few months then sneak up on their skin with 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. 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 control their rosacea by using products that help - not hurt - rosacea! Your skin care routine is so important when you have rosacea. This kit contains the Green Tea and Calming Zinc along with a pH balanced cleanser, the right healing moisturizer and sunscreen to prevent common rosacea triggers like skin dryness and UV rays. With rosacea controlled, it's easier to sneak in the retinoid!
I also find that calming facials can help soothe rosacea prone skin into tolerating the gentle exfoliation with the Sponge and the tretinoin/retinol cream. The ideal interval between facials is every 6 weeks. The skin always looks great after a facial and it's another way to keep rosacea prone skin looking its best. It's important to find an aesthetician that understands what a calming facial is because some professional facial products can provoke rosacea.
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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