How to Treat Rosacea


Rosacea normally is not a teenage condition. Sufferers most often develop symptoms in their 30s or 40s, and even after turning 50. An estimated 13 million Americans suffer from rosacea, and that number is growing as the population ages. While not a life-threat­ening illness, the physical effects of the disease can be quite harmful, both emotionally and socially.

Doctors don’t know what causes rosacea, but if you blush easily, you’re more likely to develop it. It’s possible that your top layer of skin has thinned or weakened so much that you can actually see the tiny blood vessels underneath.

Rosacea

Rosacea also may be hereditary. It most often affects fair-skinned adults of Irish, English, Scottish, Scandinavian, or East European ancestry. Women tend to develop rosacea, while men are more likely to suffer from rhinophyma, a swelling of the nose. If you repress your emotions, experience hormonal changes, or have sensitive skin, you’re also more likely to get the disease.

Many people mistake the early signs of rosacea for sunburn, and because the symptoms come and go in cycles, they tend to put off treatment. But rosacea will not go away by itself and, if left untreated, will leave your face scarred for life.

Although rosacea cannot be cured, it can be con­trolled, but you must take an active role in its treatment. Dermatologists do not recommend you do it all yourself, however, since many over-the-counter remedies are designed for acne, not rosacea, and will make the condi­tion worse. Ultimately, a dedicated combination of pro­fessional treatment and lifestyle changes is the only way to see improvement.

Your dermatologist can prescribe several methods of treatment. The most common and most successful are oral antibiotics and antibiotic gels or creams for your face. Although this approach takes patience and commit­ment, 70 to 80 percent of rosacea sufferers see a great improvement. You may opt for more drastic treatments, such as laser surgery to reduce the noticeable blood ves­sels, or dermabrasion to scrape off the top layer of skin.

The most important thing you can do is to write everything down. Keep a diary pinpointing when your face gets flushed and what activity or substance pro­voked it. Each time your face flushes, it makes your overall condition more permanent and severe, so it is important to avoid it as much as possible. Most triggers fall into six categories: food and drink, emotional influ­ences, temperature and weather, exercise, drugs, and body products.

  • Eat, drink, and be careful. Avoid spicy foods and hot drinks. They make the blood rush to your head, caus­ing you to blush. Some rosacea sufferers have prob­lems with certain fruits, especially citrus; vegetables like beans, spinach, and avocados; and dairy prod­ucts. And while rosacea is not related to alcoholism, alcohol can make a case of rosacea worse.
  • Check your stress. Anxiety apparently is the num­ber one cause of rosacea flare-ups, so avoid worry and tension whenever possible. Relax, breathe deeply, and find the joy in life. This does not mean, however, that you should suppress your feelings of anger or fear. That can be just as bad.
  • Your weatherman is your friend. Most rosacea sufferers say summertime is the worst time. Heat, sun, and humidity are major triggers of flushing. So to make it through the hot months, protect yourself when you go outdoors by wearing a hat and a facial sunscreen of Sun Protection Factor 15 (SPF 15). Schedule your outdoor activities in the early morning or evening to avoid the worst of the day’s heat. And use any strategy to keep cool. Keep a fan running in the kitchen when the oven is on; place a cool, damp cloth around your neck; or relax with a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade. Unfortunately, winter can bring its share of prob­lems as well. Cold weather and wind can whip a healthy glow into your cheeks, but it’s not a wel­come sight if you have rosacea. A hat and scarf will help protect your face from the frigid tempera­tures, and don’t forget to wear a moisturizer.
  • Exercise with caution. You must maintain a regu­lar exercise routine for general health and a sense of well-being, but as a rosacea sufferer, use com­mon sense. Begin with low-level activity and set your own pace to avoid becoming overheated. Around the house or yard, watch out for those lit­tle jobs that require lifting or moving heavy objects. A sudden burst of exertion can cause more blood to rush through your body. And avoid those after-exercise saunas or hot baths. Even though your aching muscles may benefit from the heat and steam, your skin won’t.
  • What’s in that pill? Certain drugs are vasodilators, which means they will cause your blood vessels to relax and get larger. They are used in the treatment of a wide variety of heart and vascular (blood vessel) conditions. The most commonly prescribed drugs are amyl nitrite, cyclandelate, dipyridamole, ethaverine hydrochloride, isoxsuprine hydrochloride, nimodipine, papaverine hydrochloride, and tolazoline hydrochlo­ride. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of your medications are vasodilators.

  • Be gentle to your skin. Try to avoid these ingredi­ents in skin care products: fragrance, alcohol, menthol, eucalyptus oil, witch hazel, peppermint, clove oil, acetone substances, and salicylic acid. Your rule should be water soluble, gentle, and nat­ural. Anything that stings, burns, or causes red­ness will aggravate the problem. When cleansing your face, be gentle. Don’t rub too hard or massage it. This stimulates blood circulation and will cause even more redness. Rinse with lots of cool water and blot dry. If you have a prescription medication from your doctor, pat it on gently and allow to dry. Many rosacea sufferers have found that a green-tinted makeup covers the redness remarkably well. Check with your doctor before using any other moisturizer, sunscreen, or makeup to be sure they will not react with your medication. Remember that part of the treatment of rosacea is looking and feeling your best. Soap, moisturizers, and makeup are not the only products to examine either. Perfumes, after­shave lotion, shampoo, hair spray, and even household products like laundry aids, can contain irritants.

Suffering from rosacea does not have to change your life. You should only have to make slight changes in your habits or routine to control your symptoms. Moderation is the key word, and isn’t that the secret to a longer, health­ier life?

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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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