Sunscreens Potentially Limit Rosacea Symptoms

With and Without SunscreenFor many years, dermatologists have advised rosacea patients to avoid, or at least limit, their exposure to ultraviolet light. This recommendation is borne out by the fact that surveys of rosacea patients have repeatedly demonstrated that sun exposure triggers symptoms in 75-80% of sufferers.

Avoidance of factors which trigger rosacea symptoms such as persistent redness (erythema), papules and pustules is thought to prevent worsening of the disease.

In more recent years, dermatologists have come to understand that routine daylight exposure, and not just warm sun exposure, worsens rosacea.

Accordingly, daily sunscreen use has become a mainstay of modern rosacea treatment.

Unfortunately, patients with rosacea typically have very sensitive skin, prone to burning, stinging and redness, making them surceptible to side effects from some sunscreen chemicals, which are known irritants.

Sunscreens containing lesser concentrations of sunscreen agents carry less potential for irritation, however generally don’t provide complete protection against UV, particularly UVA, and therefore fall short of maximally preventing UV-induced symptoms.

Sunscreens containing only zinc as a block have been seen as a solution because zinc oxide (ZnO) is effective across the UVA/UVB spectrum, however micro-fine zinc products do not provide the same level of protection as traditional opaque zinc products.

Additionally, sunscreens containing zinc as the only sunscreen require high concentrations to meet minimal SPFs. SPF 30+ and higher zinc sunscreens typically contain 10-20% zinc in a heavy base, making them inappropriate for daily use, due to difficulty in their removal and the drying effect of the high concentrations of zinc. Trace quantities of zinc left on the skin after cleansing also have the potential for blocking the absorption of topically-applied rosacea medications.

It has only been in the last few years that a select range of newer sunscreen formulations have become available that allows rosacea patients to fully realise the symptom reduction potential in blocking UV. Modern rosacea sunscreens are a distinct category of specialty dermatology products containing a combination of multiple lower-dose, highly photo-stable sunscreens, anti-inflammatory and antioxidants, which synergistically boost UV protection while acting against any side effects from the sunscreens.