Rosacea (pronounced roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common skin disorder that can easily be mistaken for acne. In fact, it can be mistakenly referred to as ‘adult acne’ because it generally affects adults between the ages of 30 and 50, more commonly women than men. Breakouts similar to acne (papules and pustules) can be seen on the face, along with general redness, inflammation and noticeable capillaries. The redness or flushed skin is caused by the blood vessels or capillaries expanding in reaction to an irritant.
In my research I found there are 4 types of Rosacea, with exact symptoms varying from one person to the next:
- Mild rosacea: Rash-like red, dry skin around the nose, on the cheeks and sometimes on the forehead and chin. Capillaries often become enlarged and visible.
- Moderate rosacea: Red bumps, sometimes puss filled, similar to acne – on the cheeks, around the nose and possibly on the forehead and chin. Capillaries are often visible.
- Severe rosacea: Enlarged red nose, called Rhinophyma – which is much more common in men than in women. This type develops slowly over a long period of time.
- Occular rosacea: Affects the eyes with such problems as redness, swelling of the eyelids, dry eyes, itching, soreness, blurred vision and sensitivity to light. This can be coupled with one of the other 3 types of rosacea. About 50% of the people who have rosacea are also affected by the occular form. Sometimes the eye problems become evident before the actual skin problems of rosacea appear.
What causes Rosacea?
While no one seems to know exactly what causes it, one theory is that it might be caused by a combination of environmental and hereditary factors. Another theory is that digestive issues could be part of the cause. According to the Mayo Clinic there are certain risk factors that predispose a person to having rosacea: being female, being middle aged, having fair skin, and having a family history of rosacea.
Treatment for Rosacea
It is widely recognized that there is no cure for rosacea. Treatment is available and necessary because it usually does not go away on its own. Once it is treated and has cleared up, it will stay in the body in remission until something triggers it to flare up again; further treatment then becomes necessary. Totally avoiding treatment can cause permanent damage to the skin and/or the eyes (in the case of occular rosacea). According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, there are a number of treatment options that include antibiotic medication, topical steroid creams, and laser therapy treatment.
When an irritant or trigger aggravates the blood vessels or capillaries causing them to expand, it causes the skin to become red or flushed. There are many possible triggers that can cause skin ‘flushing’, which vary for each individual person. Finding out what triggers rosacea for an individual, avoiding those triggers, and having a healthy diet and lifestyle are all very important when it comes to controlling rosacea. The most common triggers are:
- Spicy foods
- Alcohol consumption, particularly red wine
- Poor dietary choices – food that lacks nutrition
- Exposure to extreme temperatures
- High-intensity exercise
- Exposure to the sun
- Certain medications
- Caffeinated beverages
- Hot soups or drinks (such as hot chocolate)
- Cosmetic products – especially if they contain alcohol, perfumes or abrasive ingredients
If you suspect you have rosacea – the very best solution is to see a dermatologist for treatment as soon as possible. Untreated rosacea will only become worse over time, and permanent damage to the skin (and/or eyes) can result. Treatment is non-invasive, reliable and short term, but because there is no ‘cure’ treatment will need to be repeated when flare-ups occur.
Are you interested in learning more about dietary and lifestyle solutions or reducing stress to control rosacea flare-ups? Contact me – I’d love to chat with you about keeping rosacea in check!
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