How To Manage and Treat Rosacea effectively
Rosacea affects about one in 20 people in the UK. It is triggered by almost all modern-day environmental and lifestyle factors and is often misdiagnosed as acne, eczema or a skin allergy. Many sufferers go through life completely unaware that they are experiencing a recognised medical condition. Instead, they assume their skin simply happens to be a bit redder and more sensitive than others.
While there’s no cure for rosacea, it can be managed very effectively. But the condition must be caught early as it usually worsens in time if left untreated. To help you understand it better, we have broken down everything you need to know, from early signs and symptoms to the steps you can take to control it.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a common, inflammatory skin condition that can begin at any time and at any age. It is characterised by redness which usually comes and goes, but it can become permanent over time. Symptoms include flushing and blushing, persistent redness, hyper-reactivity, pimples and blemishes, inflamed blood vessels and facial swelling. Less often, it is possible to develop a thickening of the skin, usually of the nose, known as rhinophyma. Not everyone will have issues with these signs and symptoms, and the severity of the condition can vary significantly between people.
Despite being so common, rosacea is a skin condition that still isn’t taken seriously, and often it’s dismissed as a cosmetic concern rather than a recognised dermatological issue that requires ongoing management.
What causes it?
Whilst we don’t understand the exact cause of rosacea, we know that it occurs due to an inherent problem with the skin barrier function. The protective lipid layer around skin cells becomes leaky, letting water out and allowing toxins in. Rosacea is primarily genetic, and Caucasian people are more susceptible to it than those with darker skin tones. Environmental and lifestyle factors, such as stress, sun exposure, alcohol, spicy foods, changes in temperature, exercise and certain skincare ingredients such as fragrances, witch hazel and peppermint, can also trigger rosacea.
Rosacea often begins with frequent flushing and redness of the face. If these symptoms occur regularly, capillaries can break permanently, leading to lasting redness. Excessive sun exposure can accelerate the process, too, so wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily is crucial.
How to treat rosacea effectively
A consistent skincare routine is vital to protect, restore and calm the skin so it becomes healthier over time. If you don’t take care of it, cumulative sun damage, pollution and ageing will take their toll, and the skin won’t be able to compensate for the damage.
A good quality routine must include a cleanser, an antioxidant serum, SPF and a night cream. Daily sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 offering protection against UVA and UVB rays from the sun is vital for preventing flare-ups. Then you’ll need to bolt-on products to help ease inflammation, fight free-radical damage and boost collagen. Don’t be hesitant to use skincare products if you suffer from rosacea – if they’re good quality, they’ll help the skin.
Seeking the advice of a medical professional first is advisable, as they will be able to diagnose and set you off on the right path. If you do search around for skincare products, be sure that they don’t contain ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, camphor, fragrance, peppermint, eucalyptus, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulphate, and salicylic acid.
It’s also worth exploring incorporating supplements into your daily routine to ensure you get enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 as these all help to nourish the skin barrier.
Can you use active ingredients?
Many people with rosacea can be sensitive to ingredients in skincare products. For this reason, it can be a good idea to trial a new product on a small area of the skin first to make sure it doesn’t cause burning, redness or irritation. Behind the ear or on the side of the neck are both sensible areas to do this. At the mild end of the rosacea spectrum, products containing gentle actives like azelaic acid and niacinamide can be very beneficial for the skin but always introduce new products slowly, one at a time, to let the skin adjust.
Retinoid creams, which are used in skincare for their anti-ageing properties, are used by many rosacea sufferers without problems. They’re not indicated when rosacea is active, but once the skin has settled down, a gentle retinoid can be helpful to refine skin texture, improve red marks left behind from rosacea blemishes and assist with premature ageing.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.