Rosacea is actually quite a common skin problem. One in twenty people suffer from it to varying degrees, though many never realise they have it. About three times as many women have it as men. Multiple factors contribute to an alarming rise in this progressive neurovascular disorder which generally affects the facial skin. The bad news is there is currently no cure, the good news, is that with information and diligence, Rosacea now may be effectively managed and contained to prevent irreversible damage.
In spite of the fact that this condition has been around for centuries, there is still much that we do not know. Rosacea is primarily a disorder of the facial blood vessels. It can start as intense blushing, the blood vessels seem hyper-responsive to a wide range of stimuli. These stimuli may include physical exertion, sun, stress, hormonal/adrenal changes, chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, smoking and alcohol to name but a few. In response the blood vessels dilate and engorge with blood more frequently than is normal, and in the end often stay that way.
The constant dilation and engorgement finally damages the blood vessels to the point where they no longer function properly. In some people, the skin swells and thickens: if this happens around the nose, it may become bulbous and is known as Rhinophyma (as in some people with alcoholism) Some sufferers also find that their eyes sting and feel gritty. This can be accompanied by papules and pustules which can be confused with Acne. It can cause discomfort and effect the persons self confidence.
Rosacea generally affects the face, and is most common in people between the ages of 30 – 50. Women are most affected in the cheek, and chin areas, while men seem to manifest the condition around the nose.
It all begins with the blushing, of course everyone blushes at some point!, but for Rosacea sufferers rosy cheeks are the first sign of their condition.
The challenge is recognizing Rosacea for what it truly is. This skin disorder can often produce pustules and pimples as it advances, and can be misdiagnosed as Acne Vulgaris (common Acne). Correct diagnosis is critical as some of the ingredients used to treat acne (Salicylic acid, Benzoyl peroxide) may actually make matters much worse!
The very early stages of Rosacea, the pink flush may appear 30-60 minutes after a trigger, and sometimes takes hours or days to disappear. If this flush is accompanied by itchiness, sensitivity, and sometimes a reaction to your skin care products, then stage 1 of Rosacea may be showing itself.
Stage 2 is indicated by more intense and frequent facial flushing, to the point where it is almost a constant state and the affected areas can look swollen and a dark pink/purple colour. This long term engorgement of the blood vessels often results in vascular damage, followed by inflammatory papules and pustules (leading to the confusion with acne, although typically Rosacea does not produce blackheads)
As Rosacea advances, the veins begin weak and begin to leak, leading to stage 3, where the impaired blood vessels cannot remove lymph through the system in a normal way. As a result, the sebaceous glands of the cheeks and nose become enlarged and all affected tissues begin to swell.
The Treatment of Rosacea
The usual medical treatment is antibiotics, either taken orally or in the form of topical creams or gels e.g – Tetracycline and Metronidazole. This does appear to help control blushing as well as reduce the inflammation in the veins. However long term use may disturb beneficial bacteria in the gut. laser treatments are very effective at diminishing the broken blood vessels that are visible on the skin – seek advice from a Dermatologist
In addition to drugs, treatment by a professional skin therapist offers some relief in many holistic ways.
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage – a specialised, advanced massage technique which doesn’t stimulate blood flow and works to prevent the swelling around the facial features caused by the impaired blood vessels.
- Anti-inflammatory essential oils and ingredients – Aloe, Allantoin, Arnica, Chamomile, Calendula, Oatmeal, Comfrey, Burdock and Coneflower. Look for these in your skin care formulations.
- Reflexology, Pressure point massage, and stress relief treatments – may bring some relief to the mind and body.
- Nutrition for skin – tackle Rosacea from the inside as well, good nutrition is the key to treating any skin disorder and a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods is always going to have skin benefits.
Definitely avoid conventional exfoliation and products with Alpha Hydroxy Acids, non invasive particles such as rice bran are more appropriate to Rosacea prone skin, Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant is ideal – but don’t use it everyday, once or twice a week if at all. Also waxing must be approached with caution as well as extremes of temperature, especially when washing the face, this must be avoided to minimize capillary expansion.
Beware of harsh cleansers and toners with alcohol, these will strip the skin of its lipids which in turn compromise the skin’s protective barrier. Avoid the classic irritants Lanolin, S.D Alcohol, artificial fragrance, artificial colour, and mineral oil.
Try to reduce the number of products you use (less is definitely more with Rosacea), a good moisturiser, especially during severe weather and when travelling by air, along with a good sun protection product are essential! Also a good sun protection product is vital, look for Mineral sun blocks that include Zinc Oxide.
Mineral make up can provide full coverage for the redness, with sun protection and has less ingredients than conventional make up, so is much less irritating.
- Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser
- Dermalogica Soothing Protection Spray
- Dermalogica Gentle Soothing Booster
- Dermalogica Sheer Tint Redness Relief SPF 15
- Dermalogica Super Sensitive Face Block SPF 30
- Mineralogie loose Mineral Foundation SPF 26
For more information visit www.rosacea.org