Rosacea: An Introduction

Detergents / Surfactants

Detergents are the primary active ingredients in cleansers used by rosacea patients.

Detergents are water-soluble cleansers which combine with endogenous and exogenous skin impurities to make them more soluble for the purposes of rinsing-off.

Detergents differ from soap in not forming a scum with minerals and fluoride dissolved in water. This property makes detergent based cleansers more efficient and less irritating than soap, however any conventional foaming facial cleanser in this category tends to lack adequate mildness for rosacea patients.

More suitable cleansers for rosacea patients are liquid rather than solid and exhibit reduced foaming due to lower pH and the use of alternative cleansing agents.

While this increases the time required to complete cleansing, cleansers in this category reduce erythema (redness), xerosis (dryness) and the likelihood of rosacea symptoms including papules and pustules, particularly in winter.

Effective rosacea cleansers typically combine anionic (negatively charged) and amphoretic (cable of working at any pH) cleansing agents. Amino acid based products are an example of this form of cleanser.

Ideal cleansers for rosacea patients are those which deliver lipids, emollients and temporarily protective agents simultaneously at the time of cleansing to help prevent skin dehydration, or even increase it.

Highly emollient products such as cleansing creams are not usually recommended, unless if used as a step pre-cleansing with a liquid cleanser, as they have a tendency to impair the performance of subsequently applied rosacea medications and rosacea skin care by virtue of leaving residues after cleansing.

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