Rosacea Explained

Rosacea is a relatively common inflammatory skin condition, often misdiagnosed or missed by doctors. No-one really understands what causes it, and as yet, there are ways to manage it, but no known cure. An accurate diagnosis is very important as this is not simply a cosmetic concern; it is a medical condition and needs to be treated as such as it can have a significant impact on quality of life.

Rosacea is triggered by spicy foods, hot drinks, extremes of temperature, too much sunlight, stress, certain medications, and some kinds of alcohol. These triggers differ in everyone, so it is important to know what your particular trigger might be. There are different subtypes of rosacea so it presents differently in different people.

How does Rosacea Present?

Features may include:
• Easy flushing
• Persistent redness particularly around the middle of the face
• Bumps that look like acne but no blackheads are seen
• Thickened skin and enlargement of the nose
• Visible blood vessels
• Irritated red eyes (ocular rosacea)

You could be more likely to present with rosacea if you:
• Have lighter skin (Fitzgerald Skin Types I and II)
• Tend to blush easily
• Are a woman between the ages of 30 to 60
• Have a family history of rosacea

How is it Managed?

Rosacea can’t be cured, but in most cases, it can be well managed. It is essential to use appropriate medical management and skincare, so an accurate diagnosis is important.

In most cases, your dermatologist will prescribe a topical therapy to reduce the inflammation and redness, but antibiotics are sometimes used to manage the acne-like breakouts. Visible blood vessels in the face are treated with laser. If you have rosacea in your eyes, this must be diagnosed and managed by a specialist.

Top Tips to Prevent a Flare of Rosacea:

  1. Manage your environment: High and low temperatures, environmental pollution, cold wind, humidity and steam can all trigger rosacea, so avoid these extremes, where possible.
  2. Stress management: consider how you can improve your sleep, exercise and diet, and consider well established stress management strategies like breathing exercises or meditation.
  3. Maintain your immunity: Certain medications, fever, high blood pressure, coughs and cold and serious illness can trigger a rosacea flare-up so do what you can to stay healthy.
  4. Consider your exercise routine: Exercise is important for stress management and well-being, but can exacerbate rosacea. Ensure that you stay well hydrated during exercise sessions, and try shorter, higher intensity exercise routines, using a cooling spray in between exercises, or exercising outdoors in cooler weather.
  5. Avoid perfumed products including scented body products, as these can irritate the skin.
  6. Always wear SPF: exposure to UV light can trigger rosacea so it is important to find sun protective products that suit your skin. Mineral/ physical sunscreens using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are better tolerated than chemical sunscreens.
  7. Minimise make-up: if you can’t avoid make-up on your face, try natural and mineral make-up brands until you find a range that works for you. Ensure you try products out before buying large sizes, where possible. Use as few products on your skin as you can get away with, so a tinted moisturiser could be an alternative to a concealer or foundation.
  8. Skincare: It can be frustrating to find skin products that don’t cause irritation in your skin. Certain ingredients need to be avoided completely: alcohol, fragrance, menthol, abrasive scrubs and astringents found in toners. Be careful to apply products gently, and avoid over-stimulating the skin with aggressive treatments. Glycolic acid peels are frequently suggested for management of the acne-like breakouts, but can trigger rosacea, so you need to be aware of this should anyone suggest you try this.
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