We all cope with the occasional blemish—it’s an irritating, but inevitable fact of life. However, those who suffer from rosacea cope with a chronic “blemish” that can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and sometimes painful. While there is no cure for rosacea, there are some effective strategies for managing this skin condition and putting your best face forward.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea (pronounced roh-ZAY-shah) is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammation and redness on the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. Symptoms can be mild, resulting in a redness or flush on the face or they can be severe, resulting in acne, bumps, or broken blood vessels. Rosacea can also cause burning and stinging sensations and result in irritated, watery eyes. Sometimes acne associated with rosacea will erupt in ooze and crust.
What Causes Rosacea?
According to the National Rosacea Society, rosacea affects more than 16 million Americans. Experts are unsure what causes the condition, but it seems to be more common among people with fair skin and it appears to run in families. The onset of rosacea typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 60. It is more common in women; however, when the condition does occur in men, the symptoms tend to be more severe.
Rosacea tends to be cyclical—meaning the condition will flare-up for a period and then subside for a while before flaring up again. Flare-ups can often be associated with things that cause the blood vessels in the face to expand. Some common triggers of rosacea flare-ups include hot weather, wind, sun exposure, alcohol, stress, spicy food, exercise, hot baths, and drastic temperature swings.
Coping with Rosacea
Although there is no cure for rosacea, there are some effective strategies for managing the condition and keeping flare-ups at bay:
- Identify and avoid triggers. Triggers are different for each individual. Some people with rosacea can drink alcohol with no repercussions, whereas others are almost guaranteed a flare-up after a drink. Identify your triggers in order to prevent the rosacea from flaring up.
- Stay hydrated. Rosacea is often associated with dry skin. The skin can feel irritated, dry, and sensitive. Hydrate—both internally and externally—to combat dry, irritated skin. Drink plenty of water and apply a gentle moisturizer that will keep your skin hydrated and provide a barrier against the elements.
- Use gentle cleansing products. Rosacea can leave the skin feeling ultra-sensitive. Choose cleansing products with mild, natural ingredients and avoid those that contain alcohol, glycolic acid, and other common irritants. Mild, creamy cleansers are usually best. Avoid the temptation to over-cleanse—once a day is likely enough unless you have very oily skin.
- Use sunscreen religiously. This is true for everyone, but even more so for those who suffer from rosacea. Wear sunscreen every day, all year round. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, with or without sunscreen.
- Be proactive. Consider keeping a “rosacea journal” in which you track diet, exercise, activity, and other factors and chart your flare-ups. This information will help your physician best treat the condition. Some people benefit from oral antibiotics or topical creams. By tracking your condition and the factors associated with it, you’ll be able to help your physician identify the best course of action.