Tiny red pimples? Dry skin and fine red lines**? Red flushed cheeks? Burning? Itching? Always sensitive? You may be suffering from a skin disorder called Rosacea: it is a vascular disorder, meaning that it is related to blood vessels and circulation of the blood. The sudden rushing of the blood to the facial skin can stimulate sebaceous glands and irritate follicles, causing large red blemishes in the nose, cheeks and chin areas. It affects an estimated 16 million people in the US alone. It is often mistaken for acne and treated as such. For some it may have periodic flare-ups with different symptoms that come and go. Rosacea is more frequent among women but when men have it, it is more severe. And if left unchecked it could worsen with time, causing a condition called Rhinophyma (where the sebaceous glands (oil glands) in the nose and cheeks become enlarged and tissue builds up causing disfiguration). I'm sure you may have seen an older man with a large, swollen, purple, bulbous nose; that is Rhinophyma and it could happen to anyone. Now that you have a good idea of what Rosacea is lets talk about the causes, signs and symptoms, and possible treatments.
The causes of Rosacea are not fully understood. There are theories that include: autoimmune responses to bacteria, a mite (demodex) that lives in high numbers of Rosacea sufferers, a protein (Cathelicidin) that usually protects the skin from infection. The problem is virtually everyone is exposed to the above factors so why do only certain people develop Rosacea? The answer could lie in genetics, it definitely runs in families. Ethnicity could also be a factor, as people of Irish, English, Scottish, and Scandinavian heritage seem statistically more prone to get the condition. While causes are not clearly known, things that can trigger flare-ups are well documented.
Diet: There is a long list of dietary no-nos (what else is new) that can cause symptoms to aggrivate. Alcohol consumption can make symptoms worse but does NOT actually cause the disorder. Red wine, beer, bourbon, gin, vodka and champagne appear to be the biggest culprits. Dairy products such as sour cream, yogurt, and cheese should be avoided. Chocolate, citrus fruits, spicy dishes, and soy sauce are also on the do not list.
Environmental Factors: Extreme temperatures, intense exercise, sunlight, stress, anger, and embarrassment. Sun exposure is the worst culprit of all. Sunscreen is an absolute must!
Medications: Corticosteriods like prednisone or compounds that dilate blood vessels such as blood pressure medication can also prompt a breakout.
Not all of these factors affect everyone, each individual is different but sun and extreme temperatures do indeed affect everyone. Someone with Rosacea should not stop living, I mean who can give up chocolate and wine permenantly? And exercise is supposed to be good for you! So although there is no cure there are ways that flare-ups can be reduced and kept to a minimum. It is a medical condition and must be diagnosed by a doctor (talk to a Dermatologist) they can offer you a variety of remedies internally and topically. There are laser services and other medical techniques for advanced conditions. Sufferers have found that changing their diet, lifestyle has significantly improved their flare-ups to 96%. So if you have the willpower you could try that route. But you can greatly improve your condition with a proper skin care routine that you can do at home and at a spa guided by your Aesthetician.
The Dos and Don'ts of an at home skin care routine:
*Use only a gentle cleanser and wash with lukewarm (NOT HOT or COLD) water.
*Do not use anything abrasive such as face scrubs with grains (step away , from the St. Ives Apricot Scrub, better yet throw it away it's terrible but that's another blog for another time).
*Avoid irritants: fragrances in your creams, witch hazel, peppermint or menthol-y toners.
*When drying your face, blot with a soft towel do not rub or scrub.
*Wear sunBLOCK that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, sunSCREENS can contain man- made chemicals that can irritate your skin further.
In all cases if you think you may be affected by this disorder get diagnosed. Take care of yourself, avoid certain foods within reason, wear sunblock, protect your face with scarves in the winter, remain hydrated, try to reduce stress as much as possible and talk with your Aesthetician. They can work along side your doctor and provide you with great treatments in the spa and at home in order to help you minimize your flare-ups. Getting on a great skin care regimen is a fundamental part of taking care of yourself.
**Fine Red Lines aka telangiectasias or couperose skin: small, red, enlarged capillaries on the face and other areas of the body. It is important to note that not all people with these fine red lines have Rosacea. But almost all people with Rosacea have these fine red lines. Stay tuned next week to find out more about this skin care condition and what you can do to treat it.