We are discussing everything you need to know about Rosacea. What does it look like? How does it occur? How do you take care of your skin if you suffer from it?
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is what we commonly describe as facial redness. Often characterised as a rash or hyper-sensitivity across the t-zone, cheeks, chin and is dry to the touch.
Rosacea is often described as ‘adult acne’ appearing most commonly, in women within the age range of 30-50 respectively. Rosacea can appear in a plethora of ways. From facial flushing and redness (think: rash) to sensitivity and dryness across the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. Extreme rosacea sufferers can experience a burning, heat sensation; the appearance of spider and broken veins under the skins surface and production of small spots. Some sufferers also complain of watery, puffy eyes.
The Four Rosacea Sub-Categories
- Facial Redness: Commonly described as facial flushing.
- Appearance of small red, raised-bumps and round spots.
- Inflammation of the Nose: This is where the blood vessels enlarge to the point at which they will not subside. The nose can appear red, swollen and bumpy. Known as rhinopehyma, this effect is seen most in men.
- Irritation of the eyes.
What Causes Rosacea?
Unfortunately, the root-cause of rosacea remains unknown. There are many contributing factors which exacerbate rosacea. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology has also suggested that a mite within the skin, known as Demodex, is a possible contributing factor in the development of inflammation and allergic reactions leading to rosacea1. Frustratingly, the same triggers do not occur in every person.
“Although easier said, than done, rosacea sufferers must try to balance their stress levels. This can help alleviate facial flushing and reduce the levels of toxins and the over-production of cortisol in the body”.
- Food: Foods such as cheese, yogurt, citrus fruits, chocolate, spicy foods, yeast and even some superfoods such as avocado should also be avoided where possible. It is suggested that the histamines contained in these types of foods, once released in the body, trigger the rosacea inflammation.
- Wine: (**ugh, sigh**) should be consumed in moderation because of the high sugar content which irritates rosacea. Coffee is also known as a trigger.
- Stress: The term stress has become one of the most overused phrases in the health and wellbeing industry. However, stress does severely impact rosacea flair-ups. Although easier said, than done, rosacea sufferers must try to balance their stress levels. This can help alleviate facial flushing and reduce the levels of toxins and the over-production of cortisol in the body which is linked to the development of rosacea.
- Weather: Although some suggest that mild sun-exposure is beneficial for those suffering with acne, the opposite can be said for rosacea sufferers. Both weather extremes (too hot or too cold) can trigger facial flushing and redness. If you are a sun-seeker or spend long periods of time outside, adopt a strict sun-care routine. Choose sun-screens which contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients are kinder to sensitive skins and should not exacerbate the rosacea further. See below for our favourite SPF choices.
- Exercising: Exercise is a vital element of keeping mind and body healthy. But, some forms of exercise increase your natural body temperature and over-stimulate capillary vessels, leading to an increase in flushing and rosacea flair-ups. Opt for low to medium impact exercises, such as pilates and brisk-walking, to combat both the risk of rosacea flair-ups and reduce your stress-levels whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How do you Manage Rosacea?
If you know someone who suffers from rosacea, try to be sympathetic towards their situation. Whilst I don’t like hearing or talking about rosacea as a ‘disease’ (just no!) of any kind, it is a very stressful skin condition which can make people feel unconfident, emotional, shy and unwilling to take part in social situations.
For those of you reading this, who do suffer with rosacea, at any level, the good news is that there are ways to manage it that don’t require hours in a treatment room or breaking the bank in the process. Some sufferers will respond to antibiotics however, it is important to bear in mind that not all rosacea sufferers will find this a valid resolution or control method. Some studies have suggested that prolonged use of antibiotics and other medications can also contribute to the onset of rosacea. However, always consult your GP or medical practitioner for advice before you stop taking any medications.
One of the first steps is to ensure you pay attention to the individual triggers related to your own rosacea. What exacerbates the condition for you? Begin by eliminating foods and drink which may be an underlying factor. Avoid specific foods for a set period of time and assess any flair-ups which occur (if any) to identify what your skin can and can’t tolerate. Alcohol should be avoided as much as possible. Opt for spirits instead of wine/beer when you need to raise a toast. Spirits contain less sulphates than wine and no yeast (beer); reducing the risk of facial redness.
Products which contain sulphur have also shown to benefit rosacea treatment. Sulphur is a natural antibacterial medium. For rosacea sufferers who have surmised that their flair-ups are linked to food/beverage triggers; trying over-the-counter antihistamines may help. Again, always ensure you consult with the appropriate medical or dermatological experts monitoring your care before considering any of the above solutions.
Managing the effects of rosacea through professional skincare treatments is also possible and requires minimal invasive treatment. Therapies such as IPL (also known as ‘photo facials’) for thread veins, helps to diffuse redness and broken veins caused through inflammation. Combined with topical creams to reduce inflammation and alleviate redness (even if temporarily) alongside LED treatments, sufferers can accomplish a reduction in the appearance of rosacea.
“Although its tempting to cover your rosacea with heavy make-up, be mindful of which products you use. Some make-ups will only make the flushing worse. Select mineral formulations such as Jane Iredale which should irritate the skin less”
When preparing your daily skincare routine remember one of our favourite mottos “less is more”. Treat your skin kindly and with respect; do not employ any harsh agents, instead opting for a more ‘sensitive-skin’ approach. Your skin will be more affected by harsh agents which can over-stimulate or over-dry the skin and this can cause more damage in the long-run than it potentially resolves in the short term. No one-size fits all approach is possible with rosacea and it is really important that you seek the advice of a trusted, professional skincare expert who can provide you with the appropriate care.
One key element which should be incorporated into all skincare routines of rosacea sufferers is the use of sunscreen. Contrary to common wives tales, excessive sunlight exposure can exacerbate the rosacea flare-up cycle. A light formulation sunscreen, without perfume or other additives should be added to your rosacea-busting toolkit. We love Environ RAD SPF15 and Brush on Block SPF30. The unique powder formulation of ‘BOB’ not only reduces the level of irritation to the skin but the unique formulation of zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and green tea extract make it a rosacea and sensitive-skin’s best friend.
The Skin Edit recommends…
- Hydra Beauté Spritz (Guinot): keep a facial spritz in your handbag (or gym bag) for when you feel as if you’re starting to overheat. The spray will help to cool down the sensation and balance your moisture levels.
- Daily Redness Solution (Elemis): A soothing treatment moisturiser helps to reduce the daily appearance of high colour, whilst hydrating the skin. Suitable for daily use.
- Sensitive Skin SOS Complex (Elizabeth Arden PRO): jam packed with antioxidants and a unique soothing complex, this serum helps to support the skin and calm red, irritated skin.
1 Bonnar. E., Ophth. M, C., Eustace, P., et al. (1993) The Demodex mite population in rosacea in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 28(3). Pages 443-448.