Cynthia Nixon Reveals: “What I Thought Was Acne Turned Out to Be Rosacea”

Cynthia Nixon, Photo credit: Rodrigo Cid

Cynthia Nixon, Photo credit: Rodrigo Cid

Cynthia Nixon has an Emmy and a Tony, and she also has flawless skin. But that hasn’t always been the case. After struggling with persistent acne in her teens and 20s, Nixon thought she’d left her skin problems behind when she hit 30. Until they started again. Little bumps began cropping up and she returned to her old strategies to wage war on this new round of acne.

“I tried all the things I had done with my acne, like antibacterial washes, scrubs and astringent. [I thought], ‘I just got to get my face clean, and my pores clean, then it’ll be fine. And even though it’s a little harsh, my skin will bounce back the next day.’ But it wasn’t working,” she says. The bumps were still there and her skin was becoming more irritated.

Then about four years ago on a visit to her dermatologist for something unrelated, the doctor told Nixon matter-of-factly of her stubborn skin condition, “you have rosacea.”

“I’ve heard about it, I’ve heard other people have it, but I didn’t ever think it applied to me. She told me such basic, simple things, and it was like, night and day. In all my attempts to fix [the problem], I had just been exacerbating it.”

What Is Rosacea? Rosacea looks a little bit like acne — you may get bumps, pimples or pustules on top of red, irritated skin, usually in the center of the face. Those with rosacea also tend to flush or blush easily. A chronic, inflammatory skin condition, rosacea can go undiagnosed for a long time because it is characterized by flare ups followed by periods of remissions.

According to the National Rosacea Society, more than 16 million Americans have rosacea and it usually appears after age 30. Though most common in men and women with fair-skin, it can still appear in all ethnicities.

Treating Rosacea Caused by a combination of inflammatory proteins and peptides in the skin, rosacea can be treated with topical medicines, oral prescriptions and lifestyle changes. Many patients find relief by identifying what triggers their flare ups and avoiding them. Common triggers include stress, exercise, alcohol, spicy foods and extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Because it can be hard to give up something you love, triggers can’t always be avoided, but they can be managed. Knowing her personal triggers helps Nixon be more vigilant. As someone who loves red wine, spicy food, hot baths and walks in the sun, she says, “It’s not like I don’t do those things anymore, it’s just that I’m mindful. If I have a big family event, or I’m going to be on camera or a photo shoot, I think, ‘Well, maybe no tacos tonight’. I can have a couple of glasses of wine if I don’t have any plans that night.”

Besides watching what she eats, Nixon also tries to keep a consistent, gentle skin care regiment. No more scrubs and she is careful not to introduce too many new products into her routine at once so as not to “throw a curveball” at her face.

And she knows from experience that using makeup to cover up skin problems doesn’t help: “It starts to look caked on after a while, particularly the more of it you have on.” Now that her skin is more predictable and less prone to flare ups, she can wear less foundation. “That alone,” she says, “makes you look so much younger and so much fresher.”

For more about rosacea, go to or call 1-888-NO BLUSH

Originally published on


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