Rosacea, a common inflammatory skin condition, affects approximately 1 in 20 Americans. This chronic, incurable condition mostly affects the face, ears and chest, but it can spread to other areas as well. The symptoms, which include redness, flushing, visible blood vessels, skin thickening, acne-like breakouts, swelling and bumpy skin, are persistent, sometimes painful, and bothersome, causing many to look for ways to cope with the condition. There are treatments available. Let's look at the science.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, those with this condition can drastically reduce the frequency and intensity of flare-ups by identifying and avoiding triggers. While they vary form person to person, common triggers include the following:
When the skin flushes or feels sensitive after using certain products, it's obviously best to avoid them. But it may also help to take measures against the sun and weather extremes by wearing sunscreen (as long as it doesn't cause reactions) and protective clothing.
Though it's currently considered a condition of the skin, there is increasing evidence that it may be a more systemic problem including one with associated co-conditions.
There are several medications that can help reduce the redness and inflammation associated with rosacea, including topical and oral medications. Topicals include antibiotics, some acne medications and topical steroids. Oral medications may include, but are not limited to, antibiotics and steroids.
Because some forms of rosacea can cause ocular symptoms, there are eye drops and creams to address those particular symptoms. For any of these medications to work, they must be taken as directed.
Proper skin care is vital in treating rosacea, but it can be tricky. Many skin care products can cause skin irritation and induce flare-ups, as can vigorous and/or frequent cleansing. To avoid triggering a flare, follow a good skincare routine that includes a mild cleanser and moisturizer if tolerated — but know that a water-only approach is helpful for some. If products are the choice, a dermatologist may be able to suggest products that won’t trigger a flare and are also great for the skin.
Anxiety, stress, anger, embarrassment and other emotions can trigger rosacea symptoms. So strive to take care of the entire body. Get plenty of rest, reduce stress and practice self-soothing techniques such as deep breathing to keep these things at bay.
Although rosacea is incurable and chronic, it is treatable — and more research is being done that may make it curable one day. Rosacea can be misdiagnosed and confused for other conditions so it may also be worth it to explore lupus and other conditions with a doctor. Regardless, being under treatment is the best first step.