Rosacea is a common, but often overlooked skin disorder affecting over 14 million Americans today. Unfortunately, the National Rosacea Society says that about 78 percent of Americans neither know how to recognize this skin disorder or how to properly treat it.
Most often affecting fair-skinned people, rosacea is characterized by ""erythema"" or flushing of the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. This flushing can also be found around the areas of the shoulders and back. Statistically, women experience rosacea symptoms about three times more often than men.
While the cause of rosacea is unknown, some scientists believe that there is a hereditary component. Individuals of European and Scandinavian descent seem to be predisposed to rosacea. Scientists have also learned that factors such as elevated levels of the peptide cathelicidin, stratum corneum tryptic enzymes (SCTEs), and steroids can induce, or lead to rosacea. Rosacea symptoms can be triggered and aggravated by prolonged sun exposure, increased stress, alcohol, certain foods and caffeinated beverages, excessive exercise, severe temperature fluctuations and even certain skin care products.
There are four classifications of rosacea:
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea often exhibits a persistent flushing, or redness, with the possibility of visible blood vessels in the face.
- Papulopustular rosacea also manifests as distinct redness, but includes a bumpy uneven texture that often leads it to being confused as acne vulgaris.
- Phymatous rosacea leads to a thickening of the skin because of an excess of tissue and an irregular epidermal texture.
- Ocular rosacea affects the eyes, making eyelids irritated, red, swollen, and uncomfortable.
There is no known cure for rosacea, however, the symptoms can be controlled and improve significantly by using proven skin care treatments. This skincare regimen would include a personalized and gentle skin-cleansing routine, daily sun protection containing products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, tetracycline antibiotics and possibly laser treatments and/or photorejuvenation therapy. But be aware, some skin care treatments and products can actually create and worsen rosacea symptoms. These could include use of: microdermabrasion, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids (such as retin-A or retinol palmitate).
Many rosacea sufferers can benefit by learning to identify their trigger factors and avoiding those situations and skincare products that could increase their symptoms. An effective rosacea treatment must be continual and long-term. While it is characterized by periods of flare-ups and remissions, most individuals can experience gradual and noticeable improvements by using proven skincare treatments and avoiding triggers over time.
Use only mild soaps and cleansers.
Rosacea sufferers have skin that is unusually vulnerable to chemical and physical insults. All sources of irritation, such as soaps, alcoholic cleansers, astringents, abrasives and peeling agents, must be avoided. Only very mild soaps are advised. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser is a wipe-off cleanser ideal for sensitive skin. If a foaming cleanser is something you are looking for, try M2 Exfoliating Cleanser.
Always use a high SPF sunscreen.
Protection against sunlight must be emphasized. Use a sunscreen specially formulated for sensitive skin to avoid irritation.
Use a product with light exfoliation.
Salicylic acid or mandelic acid exfoliation is key for getting rid of acne associated with rosacea. They are the two least irritating acids to sensitive skin. M2 and NuCelle are brands based around mandelic acid.
Use an anti-inflammatory acid to reduce redness.
Azelaic acid will gently reduce redness and lighten the skin. Epionce Lite Lytic Tx is a treament cream that helps fight acne while reducing sun spots and calming redness.
Use a product containing vitamin C.
Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) has been shown to be particularly beneficial in reducing redness. Start off with a lower concentration to prevent any irritation. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, a top seller, contains 15% L-ascorbic acid plus vitamin E which heals and ferulic acid which neutralizes free radicals, lightens and reduces inflammation.