Rosacea, for some, might call up memories of W.C. Fields, or even Santa Claus, with their ruddy cheeks and noses. There is no exact cause for rosacea; according to the National Rosacea Society, over 14 million Americans suffer from it. Many of us—roughly 78%—have no idea what it really is, or how to identify it.
According to Dr. Simon Ourian, a Beverly Hills cosmetic dermatologist, rosacea is “redness, flushing [and] patchy skin discoloration”. Many of his patients start showing symptoms in their 30’s and 40’s. Dr. Ourian also notes that “Rosacea is most common in lighter skinned women.” Symptoms can include cysts, enlarged blood vessels, a large nose, and the skin feeling unusually warm. The condition can even affect the eyes, which can make them feel gritty and dry. The eyes can also burn, itch and sting.
Genetics are a big factor in whether or not rosacea is a part of your life. But lifestyle and environment play a huge role too. Some of these are “sun, extreme temperatures, wind, stress or anxiety, exercise, alcohol, hot beverages, spicy foods and anything else that causes flushing, “ according to Dr. Ourian. Pregnancy and menopause hormones can also trigger rosacea.
Rosacea is often confused with acne or chronic blushing (the latter is actually related to rosacea). People who suffer from it can spend thousands of dollars trying to fix the problem themselves. Unfortunately, the methods they choose often make matters worse. Alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, topical steroids and the like can make rosacea flare up even more.
Several doctor approved treatments can help relieve the symptoms of this condition. Topical sulfa based antibiotics are one solution. These prescription only medications help relieve bumps and blemishes.
If the patient has a problem with pimples or another inflammatory skin problem, the doctor may prescribe an oral treatment designed to destroy the bacteria causing the problem, like minocycline or doxycycline. These both belong to the tetracycline family, and they would be administered along with the topical treatment. As the pimples start to disappear, the oral treatment would be reduced and the topical treatment would stay the same.
Laser and Light Therapy
Visible redness and blood vessels can be eliminated with Intense Pulsed Light (or IPL) treatments. Blue/Red LED treatments get rid of surface bacteria and swelling and breaks down the damaged tissue. According to Dr, Ourian, Blue Light therapy is another excellent way to treat rosacea.
Over the Counter Creams
OTC treatments can help get rid of some of the redness, though they aren’t as effective as the prescribed versions. Epione’s Calming and Hydration formula contains coffeeberry, which Dr. Ourian wholeheartedly endorses. He says, “My goal for patients is to make them look their best without having to wear makeup.”
The general rule of thumb for skin care, rosacea or not, is to keep your routine as simple and gentle as you can. Irritating the skin is a sure way to trigger a bout with rosacea. Cleansers that contain no fragrances or oils are an excellent choice. Astringents, rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus and clove oil, and salicylic acids are all substances that may aggravate the skin.
Since intense sunlight can also trigger an attack, rosacea sufferers should wear broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreens. This will also protect their skin from sun damage. The recommendation from the National Rosacea Society is to use a product with SPF 15 or higher, or sun blocks that contain zinc or titanium dioxide. Before any treatments are used, check with a doctor first.