by Geri Walton ~ December 5th, 2008
Rosacea affects nearly 14 million Americans, and most are fair-skinned women between the ages of thirty and sixty. It is characterized by chronic facial redness, acne-like eruptions, and inflammation. Rosacea redness usually affects the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. It’s as if the person were suffering from a continual blush, which at times can be very intense and painful. Sometimes rosacea can also appear on a person’s neck, ears, scalp, or chest, or it can cause an intensely red and bulbous-looking nose that people mistake as being caused by alcoholism or heavy drinking.
For certain people, rosacea can be devastating, and sufferers can feel isolated because of how they look. There’s also no way to cure rosacea, but there are things rosacea sufferers can do to help manage symptoms. Here’s a few:
- Aspirin May Help. A recent study in relation to aspirin found the same properties that help aspirin constrict blood vessels during a headache may be the same properties that help suppress the vascular dilation causing rosacea. If you’re interested in learning more read Aspirin and Rosacea: Hush the Blush.
- Avoid Alcohol. Although alcohol isn’t the cause of rosacea, it can make it worse. In a study of 700 patients by the National Rosacea Society, red wine was the worse culprit. It was followed by white white, beer, champagne, vodka, tequila, bourbon, gin, rum, and scotch, respectively. More importantly, 90 percent of the people in study who drank, found after they limited their alcohol consumption, their rosacea flare-ups were reduced.
- Avoid Certain Foods. Some people have found the following foods cause flare-ups. They are avocado, cheese, and eggplant.
- Avoid Certain Products. A number of products, such as astringents, exfoliators, alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, fragrance, and eucalyptus and clove oils, as well as the ingredient salicylic acid in certain skin care products, can cause irritation. So, avoid any products that burn, sting, or irritate. If you want to learn more about salicylates, read Salicylate Sensitivity and Intolerance.
- Avoid Cinnamon. Although cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant, one study published in June of 2008 and available at NCBI, found cinnamon can often worsen rosacea symptoms because it acts as a vasodilator and dilates blood vessels.
- Avoid the Sun and Environmental Extremes. Do what you can to limit your time in the sun because UV rays can be particularly damaging to rosacea sufferers. Also, use a good sunblock, not sunscreen, and, if you’re unsure of the difference between the two, read Sunblock Versus Sunscreen. Wind, cold weather, and heat can also cause rosacea flare-ups in some people.
- Avoid Long-term Topical Steroids. Although steroids can treat rosacea-like symptoms temporarily, they are not a long-term solution and, in fact, can sometimes induce rosacea symptoms.
- Be Gentle. Whenever washing or cleaning your face, be gentle. Use mild soaps, mild cleansers, and mild products. Never use anything that is abrasive, grainy, or rough, and remember anything you apply to your face needs to be done lightly with your fingertips. Avoid rough wash cloths, loofahs, or sponges, rinse with cool or luke-warm water, and let your face air dry for up to five minutes before you put on any medications or skin care products.
- Cool Baths and Showers. Hot water often exacerbates the problem, so when you shower or bath, chose luke-warm or cool water.
- Exercise. Overheating can spark rosacea in some people, but even though you have rosacea, you still need to be physical fit. Ways to reduce overheating include using a fan when you exercise or exercising early in the morning or late in the day when it’s cool. Low-impact exercises, such as water aerobics or swimming are good choices. If you’re a beginning swimmer, here’s a great post on Getting Started with Swimming for Fitness.
- Green Tea. For some sufferers, green tea can help reduce sensitivity to ultraviolet light. In addition, it may help symptoms because it’s an anti-inflammatory. To learn more about green tea’s health benefits, read Green Tea Miracles.
- Herbs. For some rosacea sufferers herbs may help, but for others they may exacerbate the problem. The most frequently used herbs for rosacea sufferers are anti-inflammatories, such as camphor oil, chamomile, feverfew, lavender, licorice, oatmeal, and tea tree oil. However, remember herbs are plants, and people can have reactions to them. Do your research before you use herbs internally or externally.
- Hot Beverages and Spicy Food. Not every sufferer experiences problems when they eat a hot meal or consume spicy food, but some people do. If you do, try luke-warm teas, coffees, and ciders, as well as non-spicy foods.
- Keep a Diary. If you’re not sure what is causing your rosacea symptoms, the only way you’ll ever figure it out is to keep a diary. If you’re interested, The National Rosacea Society has a free “Rosacea Diary” you can order by filling out this form. (It comes by snail mail). The diary is designed to help rosacea sufferers identify and avoid individual triggers.
- Limit Stress. Stress always seems to exacerbate any ailment and that is precisely the case with rosacea. So, learn good techniques to alleviate stress. If you’re interested in some stress buster tools, read The Yellow Brick Road for the Stressed Out, Over Stressed, and Just Plain Stressed, Techniques to Relieve Stress, or Mindfulness Techniques. There is also this CD, Stress Relief Through Guided Imagery, that provides valuable techniques on how to alleviate stress in your life.
- Shaving. Razors can irritate sensitive facial skin and make the situation worse, so opt for an electric razor to minimize irritation, and then use a light moisturizer to keep your skin moist.
- Try Aromatherapy. Some people have benefited from aromatherapy as several essential oils offer medicinal, anti-inflammatory, and skin rejuvenation benefits. If you’re interested in learning more, read Aromatherapy Aids for Rosacea Sufferers.
What exactly causes rosacea is a mystery. However, skin problems are often related to digestion, and, many rosacea sufferers have some sort of digestive problems, often related to low stomach acid. They may also experience constipation or sluggish bowels because of improper digestion, or they may have leaky gut syndrome. In addition, there can be yeast overgrowth or deficiencies in B vitamins, particularly B12. Some women have worse symptoms because of hormone changes brought about through birth control pills, estrogen levels, menstruation, perimenopause, or postmenopausal symptoms.
If you do not take care of your rosacea and avoid triggers, over time blood vessels can be incapable of constricting properly. That means you could end up with a continual blush. If triggers continue and you don’t do someting about it, your face could get redder and redder, until pimples occur. In some cases the pimples don’t disappear, and, things can gets worse. For instance, in severe rosacea cases, disfigurement has been the result of uncontrolled rosacea.
If you want more information, Acne.org has a good post, with alot of ideas written by The Snow Queen. She also provides a list of rosacea irritants found in cosmetics and offers information on treatment options. There is also a site owned by Dr. Geoffrey Nase, who is a rosacea research specialist. He provides the latest treatment information on rosacea and redness. There is also this self-help guide titled Rosacea: Your Self-Help Guide. The guide discusses treatment options, nutrition, stress management, and more.