Q. How to get rid of redness and facial flushing due to retinol usage?

Answered by
Dr. Sushil Kakkar
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on May 01, 2020

Hello doctor,

I have facial flushing in my cheeks for about one month and have not gone away. It varies from mild to bright red day today. It began after I tried using Retinol and experienced peeling so I stopped after one week. I saw a doctor who said it was contact dermatitis because I used other harsh products during the Retinol treatment. However, I can see broken capillaries on my cheeks. Is this rosacea? How can I make the redness go away?



Welcome to

Flushing, persistent redness and telangiectasia could be signs of rosacea. Moreover, retinoids can flare up rosacea. A common cause of rosacea in some individuals is the usage of potent topical steroids on the face. Is there such a history? However, they are not implicated in a large number of cases. I suggest you to use a broad spectrum sunscreen and avoid the sun. Do you also have acne? Why were you using retinoid? What other products you have been using? I request you to kindly upload an image of the skin so that I am able to have a look and guide you accordingly.

Thank you doctor,

I did use Hydrocortisone a few times since the redness started because I was not sure what to do. I was using over the counter Retinol for one week because I had blackheads and large pores but no acne. During the Retinol, I was using harsh products such as witch Hazel toner, Vitamin C, and AHA/BHA. Since the redness started I have only used Cerave and Avene products.



Welcome back to

Perhaps you already had some underlying tendency for rosacea. Moreover, products such as retinol, witch hazel, AHA/BHA can flare up already sensitive skin of patients with rosacea. Hydrocortisone is safer than all other steroids and I suggest you to use it for a week or so to reduce the redness (that is persistent) but not if your primary concern is only flushing. In the latter case, just continue with a sunscreen, stay away from the sun, and use a moisturizer. Of course, you need to avoid any harsh topicals for now.

I hope this helps.

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