What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that affects the face, and is characterized by 2 main features: redness and sensitive skin. I always say that when it comes to rosacea, there are 50 shades of red. The spectrum of “redness” ranges from rosy cheeks or a flushed look, to actual pink bumps on the skin that look a lot like acne. In face, rosacea is often mis-diagnosed as acne. Most people with rosacea do not even know that they have it. I was interviewed by New Beauty about rosacea look alikes here.
What causes rosacea?
Rosacea happens when the local immune system in the skin itself goes on over-drive. The same immune response that your skin would produce to a bacterial infection, for example, gets abnormally turned on by normal triggers, like sunlight, exercise, foods and even cosmetics. Rosacea is not an allergic reaction, although the skin appears to be red and sometimes itchy or painful, like one would expect during an allergic reaction.
Is rosacea serious?
The good news is that rosacea is not dangerous and not contagious. Nevertheless its emotional impact should not be underestimated. A survey by the National Rosacea Society found that up to 90% of rosacea patients report feelings of low self-esteem due to their condition, and rosacea patients have higher rates of depression and anxiety. Because it affects the face, it is hard to cover up, and is usually very noticeable. The fact that stress can make rosacea worse only furthers to complicate the cycle. Also, rosacea sufferers are typically females in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Women at this stage of their lives are often experimenting with various skincare products and makeup, in an effort to look their best, and to look young. However chemicals in these products only make rosacea worse.
Additionally, new research from a Danish group has found that rosacea is associated with various internal diseases, including migraine headaches, high blood pressure, various gastrointestinal diseases including Celiac disease, Parkinsons disease, Alzheimers disease, and even a brain tumor called glioma.
Is there a cure for rosacea?
Although rosacea cannot be cured, it can be controlled with proper diagnosis and medication. The treatment is tailored to what the patients looks like. For example, if you have flush-and-blush rosacea, you may benefit from medications that clamp down the blood vessels in the skin, limiting redness. If you have actual acne-like bumps, then you may need a combination of an oral antibiotic (Oracea Capsules 40mg is a popular option because it is a baby-dose antibiotic with limited side effects) and a topical (e.g. Soolantra, Metrogel, Finacea, Sodium sulfacetamide).
What are some tips for managing rosacea?
- Know your triggers, and avoid them
- Don’t experiment!
- Never underestimate the importance of moisturizer — look for products containing ceramides and glycerin
- Wear sunscreen — the sun is a trigger in 80% of patients
- Steer clear of ingredients that sting, burn or cause redness, such as alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, and peppermint
- Select fragrance-free products!
What foods should rosacea patients avoid or look for?
National Rosacea Society put together a fantastic resource about diet here. Anyone with rosacea must check it out!