Rosacea: What You Need To Know
Rosacea is a condition of facial redness and sensitivity that affects about 14 percent of the population. The problem usually starts in middle age, and both men and women can be affected.
What do Renee Zellegwer, Cameron Diaz, Mariah Carey, and Bill Clinton have in common? They are four of the 14 million Americans who have to deal with a form of sensitive skin called rosacea. For reasons that are not clear, the skin tends to flush easily and stay red. It is more common in women with fair skin, but it’s also seen in men and people with darker eyes and coloring.
What is Rosacea?
It’s a common skin disease that begins as a tendency to blush easily. As it progresses, people often develop red in the center of their face. It gradually spreads to their nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin. It mostly affects fair-skinned individuals, and more women than men are affected.
There are two main forms of rosacea:
- The most common and mildest form consists primarily of bright red skin and numerous small broken blood vessels on the skin’s surface. Why this happens is not clear but certain triggers seems to bring trigger flare-ups. Sunlight is the biggest culprit, followed closely by alcohol, spicy foods, stress, chocolate, coffee and hot showers.
- The second form of rosacea has similar redness but now the skin also has pimple like breakouts that don’t respond to traditional care. There is some evidence that bacteria and yeast microorganisms are part of the problem. Sunlight and the other well-known rosacea trigger also contribute to outbreaks of this type of rosacea.
Signs/symptoms - The primary signs of Rosacea are:
- Blushing or flushing easily, where the blush lingers longer than it does in other people or than it used to on you
- Permanent facial redness, with or without visible spider-like blood vessels
- Acne-like bumps on the skin called papules and pustules (PP), which might ooze or crust over
- Tightness, burning, or stinging sensations in the face
- Irritated, bloodshot, watery eyes (a subtype called ocular rosacea)
- A red or bulbous nose (rhinophyma, which is rare)
Things to do if you have rosacea:
- Practice good sun protection. My dermatologist is confident that I already do this.
- Avoid spicy foods, some alcoholic beverages, hot drinks, and caffeine, which can be triggering.
- Protect my skin from extreme hot and cold temperatures, which can exacerbate rosacea.
- Exercise in a cool environment and do not overheat.
- Protect your face from the cold with a scarf.
- Try to avoid wind and if you are outside on windy days protect your face the best you can.
- Avoid rubbing, massaging, or scrubbing the face.
- Avoid cosmetics and skin care products that contain alcohol or witch hazel.
Living with Rosacea can be challenging but there are a few things you can do to help avoid an outbreak. There are things that trigger Rosacea so try your best to avoid these things.
Products & treatments that can be triggered:
- Soap (drying and irritating)
- Granular Exfoliating Cleansers (too rough on the skin)
- Washing with hot water (heat is a trigger)
- Wash Cloths (again too rough on the skin)
- Toners with volatile alcohols (dehydrated skin becomes more sensitive)
- Occlusive Ingredients (petrolatum, mineral oil trap heat in the skin)
- Physical Scrubs (too abrasive)
- Microdermabrasion (way too abrasive)
- Brushes (including mechanical brushes like Clarisonic)
- Witch Hazel (the drug store type is 90% alcohol, the herb alone is fine)
- Fragrance (known irritant)
- Strong Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic Acid)
- Benzoyl Peroxide (very harsh and caustic)
- Chemical Sunscreens (work by turning UV into heat)
- Using too many products at the same time (sensitive skin can react)
If you are experiencing any of these signs your first step is to contact our office and schedule a consultation where Dr. Kaplan can diagnose your skin condition and discuss a course of treatment that works best for you!