Skincare Tips For When You’re Ill

We’ve all been there: you feel so grotty that the thought of dragging your feverish body out of bed to the bathroom to wash your face makes you physically shudder. Don’t worry, I’m here to help and share my best skincare tips for when you’re ill.

As you’ve probably heard me say many times before, rosacea thrives on routine. It does not like surprises and a sudden illness can really throw a spanner in the works. I’ve now had rosacea for over 18 years and I’ve been educating people about it online for over a decade, and in that time I have developed lots of tricks and coping strategies for various scenarios. So let’s get into my skincare tips for when you’re ill.

The most important bit of advice I can give you is ‘do what you can’. The last thing you need when you’re poorly is more pressure and stress. You are ill and you need to rest, so don’t beat yourself up about not doing your usual full skincare routine.

When it comes to skincare, all you really need are the basics: cleanser, moisturiser, sunscreen (and the latter is only important if you’re leaving the house, there’s no point in putting on sunscreen just to hide under your duvet in a darkened room!) But if you really can’t make it to the bathroom, or can’t face standing up for that length of time, you can just bring your skincare to your bed/sofa. These tips are also useful if you’re going into hospital and need some bedside skincare help.

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Cleansing your face is important every day, but even more so when you’re ill because you’re probably a bit sweaty and not as fastidious about cleanliness as usual. Choose a no-rinse cleanser, like the La-Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser or the Avene Tolerance Extremely Gentle Cleanser. These can be applied to a resusable cotton pad, wiped across the face, and don’t need to be removed with water. Alternatively, you can use a micellar water on a cotton pad. My favourite is the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water, which I’ve used for years. None of these are perfect long-term solutions, but they are great for helping you through the worst of whatever plague has befallen you.


I recommend sticking with whatever moisturiser you typically use (remember: routine, routine, routine!), but if possible use one you trust that’s a bit richer than usual, as your skin gets much drier when you’re ill. I also recommend applying it more often than you usually would to help keep that scaly feeling away. I tend to keep my moisturiser next to me and apply a light layer whenever my skin feels tight or dry to the touch. My recommendations: No7 Derm Solutions 100 hr Hydration Cream, Clinique Moisture Surge Intense, La-Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5, or Avene Cicalfate+


If you really have to leave the house (taking the dog out, children to school, or doing a smash and grab at the pharmacy) then sunscreen should be worn because sun damage won’t stay away just because you’re sick. When I’m ill, I will usually choose a more hydrating sunscreen to help combat the inevitable dryness. My most used sunscreens at the moment are: Ultra Violette Supreme Screen (SPF 50), Dermatica Photodamage Defence (SPF 50), or Pai British Summer Time (SPF 30).


This won’t be a groundbreaking suggestion for any of you but it’s really, really important when you’re ill. You should have a bottle of water next to you at all times and keep chugging throughout the day. It may be annoying when you keep having to leave your duvet pile to have another wee, but when the worst of the sickness has passed your skin will thank you.

Added extras

If you have the energy, time, or inclination, and you think your skin might appreciate something extra, these are some recommendations that are ‘nice to haves’. Remember, the non-negotiables are cleanser, moisturiser, and (situation dependent) sunscreen. Do not pressure yourself to do anything more than that if you can’t be bothered. Use that energy elsewhere.

Spritz: a cooling, hydrating product to spritz on before moisturiser. My recommendations: Byoma Balancing Face Mist or Dr Jart+ Tiger Grass Calming Mist.

Oil: Recently I’ve been adding a couple of drops of oil to my moisturiser to give it a little extra oomph. The By Sarah London Hero Facial Oil is particularly lovely (I also recommend having a look into the brand’s origin story, it’s lovely).

Balm: I have spoken about balms in previous winter seasons because they are just so great for creating a barrier between your skin and the cold wind and rain. The Dermatica Ceramide Skin Balm is light on the skin but really helps to protect from external aggressors, plus it’s pocket-sized so if you’re like me you can just keep it in your dog-walking coat.

Actives/medication: If you are currently using a medicated cream or any kind of actives (retinoids, vit c, azelaic acid etc) then it’s usually recommended that you try to keep applying them as they work on consistent use. However, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your skin and see how you’re getting on day by day: for some people they’ll notice a negative response if they skip these steps, while for some they can manage without them for a few days. I carried on using my Dermatica personalised formula because my skin was happy for me to continue and because it lives next to my bed anyway!

I hope you found this post useful, please share any skincare tips for when you’re ill in the comments so we can all learn together.


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