What is Rosacea? Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that can cause many symptoms including facial flushing, itchiness, burning or tight sensation, redness, bumps, pustules and papules, thickening of the skin and hyper sensitivity. It is most common on the cheeks, but can appear on the rest of the face including the nose and even including the eyes where they become inflamed and irritated. Rosacea can become worse over time if not treated and cared for correctly. Rosacea can often be mistaken for a rash, sunburn, blushing and even acne. Rosacea affects more women than men and it is said that it mainly affects people with fairer skin, however this may just be as it is more noticeable in fairer skinned people. Rosacea tends to have periods of being calm and then periods of flare ups. Flare ups can last a few hours or a few weeks, however the condition can become manageable and symptoms can be reduced if you know what the triggers are. There are four different types of rosacea -
Subtype 1 (erythematotelangiectatic)
Facial flushing, persistent redness and visible blood vessels, burning and itchy sensations
Subtype 2 (papulopustular)
Persistent facial redness with transient facial papules, pustules and itchy bumps
Subtype 3 (Phymatous) This subtype tends to affect men more than women and in addition to flushing, persistent redness and visible blood vessels, causes a thickening of the skin, irregular surface nodularities and patulous follicles. Most commonly seen on the nose, however it can also affect the chin, forehead, cheeks and ears. Causes a thickening of the skin, usually on the nose.
Subtype 4 (ocular rosacea) Watery blood shot eyes that can also feel dry and gritty, have a burning or stinging sensation and cause sensitivity to light.
Rosacea, although chronic can be reduced and managed if the triggers to the condition are reduced. Triggers can be very individual to each sufferer. Common triggers include - - Sun. Rosacea is very sensitive to the sun - Stress and anxiety - Poor sleeping patterns or lack of sleep - Exercise - Alcohol - Harsh stripping skincare - Medications - Smoking - Going from cold air to hot air and vice versa - Air conditioning and central heating - Fragrance in skincare, hair care or laundry liquid - Exposure to harsh chemical household cleaning products - Exposure to pollution - Too much touching the face - Allergies - Hot drinks - Talking on your mobile phone touching your ear and face - Hot and spicy foods - Hot water from the shower - Hot steam e.g saunas/steam rooms/cooking - Hormonal fluctuations - Topical steroids - High Histamine diet
What are the possible causes?
Unfortunately there is not one known cause for this skin condition. There are lots of theories and studies that link rosacea to different causes.
-For example it has been observed that rosacea sufferers have more ‘demodex folliculorum’ mites (a mite that lives on human skin) present on their skin than someone with normal skin, it is thought the mites faeces causes a reaction on the skin. It is not known whether the mites cause rosacea or if the rosacea causes the overpopulation of the mites. - Another theory is that people with rosacea have abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face, causing redness, flushing and visible blood vessels, what causes these abnormalities is unknown. -Rosacea sufferers tend to have a compromised skin barrier which can be caused by overexposure to the sun and the use of harsh stripping skincare products. This can lead to inflammation of the skin and hypersensitivity that are symptoms of rosacea. - Family history of rosacea. Many rosacea sufferers have a close relative with the condition. There is also a strong link to gut issues and rosacea, inflammation in the gut can be reflected on the skin.
The gut Below are some gut related issues that are linked with rosacea - Leaky Gut - this is where the gut lining becomes compromised, letting toxins escape into the blood stream and the body resulting in inflammation and immune issues. There is a high link between this condition and rosacea. -Food intolerances, some people notice a reduction in their rosacea symptoms when these foods are eliminated. - There is a link between Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) and rosacea - Link with SIBO small intestinal bacteria overgrowth - There is a link between Candida (a yeast) overgrowth in the gut and rosacea - There is a link between the presence of H.Pylori and rosacea. H.Pylori is a bacteria which infects the lining of the stomach. It stimulates the production of bradykinin, a small polyps tide known to cause blood vessels to dilate. - There is a link between high histamine levels and Rosacea
These topics and their link with Rosacea will all be explored over the coming weeks in further detail Skincare for Rosacea
Rosacea sufferers should try and use gentle and hydrating products, with no artificial fragrance, pure alcohol or too many active ingredients as these ingredients can be irritating to rosacea and cause a flare up. As rosacea skins tend to have an impaired barrier function (the barrier that keeps our skin hydrated and protects our skin from external aggregators e.g pollution and bacteria), all skincare used should be there to support and strengthen this barrier. Once the skins barrier is strong and healthy, the skin will be come calmer and less inflamed and time between flare ups will become longer and longer. Cleansers Should be gentle and non-foaming and non-stripping. Something like a cleansing milk, cream or balm would be best and should be rinsed off with tepid water, never hot. Try:
Oilixia Gummy Cleanser Skin and Tonic steam clean Balm Serums/mists Lightweight hydrating serums work to keep the lower layers of the epidermis hydrated and help to minimise dehydration of the skin. Some serums can contain lots of active ingredients so gentle formulas should be used. Use after cleansing and before moisturiser
Skin and Tonic Rose Mist(use morning and night, and can also be used throughout the day to refresh and hydrate the skin) Moisturisers Moisturisers help the skin to retain moisture and water and create a protective barrier over the skin to help avoid dryness, dehydration and irritation from our environment.
Try Heackles Eco Marine Facial Cream(use morning and night) SPF
SPF is so important for rosacea sufferers as rosacea skins cant tolerate the sun. It can cause a flare up if skin is not protected from UV rays. Mineral SPFs are usually more tolerated than chemical SPFs and should be worn every day of the year, even on cloudy days in the winter. In the sun a hat and sunglasses should always be worn as well as SPF Makeup - should be mineral based
Exfoliation There are some gentle acid exfoliants that rosacea sufferers can tolerate including mandelic acid, lactic acid and fruit enzymes. However these active ingredients should only be used once a week as overuse can cause sensitivity and a flare up.
Mad Hippie Exfoliating serum (use once a week in the evening)
Should be gentle, nourishing and hydrating, try to avoid clays as these can be too stripping for a rosacea skin
Nourishing Organic Sheet Masks Other skincare ingredients of note that can be beneficial to rosacea sufferers are Azelaic acid - which is very anti-inflammatory and helps to bring down redness. Niacinamide -which helps to even out skin tone, helps regulate oil production, helps to strengthen the skins barrier and makes pores appear smaller. Beta Glucan - which is anti inflammatory and an anti-oxidant so helps protect the skin from external aggresors. Extra tips for rosacea sufferers
- Never put your face under the hot water in the shower, only ever clean face with tepid water and a gentle face sponge or wash cloth - nothing too exfoliating or abrasive - Apply a hydrating mask or moisturiser before going into the shower and remove afterwards, this will provide a protective barrier to stop the heat and steam from irritating and dehydrating the skin - Try not to let your shampoo or hairstyling products touch your face - Use a microfibre sponge to cleanse face rather than a flannel or muslin cloth which can be irritating with everyday use. Sponges need to be cleaned with each use - Sleep on a silk pillowcase, this is more gentle for your skin and less absorbent meaning essential moisture wont be stripped from your skin - Do not touch your face throughout the day - Never pick at your face - Make sure makeup brushes are cleaned and sanitised regularly - Spritz face with hydrating mist regularly to cool the skin down