Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterised by diffuse redness across the cheeks and nose and sometimes the chin and forehead. In severe rosacea, acne-like pimples can appear on the nose and cheeks, but rosacea is not related to acne.
The exact cause of rosacea is not really known and although a number of potential factors have been suggested there still isn’t enough evidence to define the real cause. What we do know for sure is that skin damage from sun exposure definitely plays a part.
Possible factors for developing rosacea:
Skin peptide levels
Recent research has shown external triggers such as ultraviolet (UV) light, spicy food, alcohol (particularly red wine), exercise, stress, heat and cold can lead to the activation of certain molecules within the skin called peptides.
Increased levels of these peptides may, in turn, affect the immune system or nerves and blood vessels (neurovascular system) of the skin. Activation of these systems can cause dilation of blood vessels, redness and inflammation.
Blood vessel abnormalities
Some experts believe abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face may be a major contributing factor for rosacea. This may explain symptoms of flushing, persistent redness and visible blood vessels.
It's not known what causes these abnormalities. But sun damage may be responsible for degeneration of the elastic tissue of the skin and the dilation of blood vessels.
Microscopic mites called demodex folliculorum usually live harmlessly on human skin, but people with rosacea have particularly large numbers, which may play a role in the condition.
It is currently uncertain whether the mite is a cause or an effect of rosacea.
Rosacea seems to be more common in families, although it's not clear which genes – if any – are involved or how they're passed on.
Triggers of rosacea:
Although they're not thought to be direct causes of the condition, many people with rosacea find certain triggers make their symptoms worse. These include:
- exposure to sunlight
- hot or cold weather
- strong winds
- strenuous exercise
- hot baths
- spicy foods
- hot drinks
- dairy products
- other medical conditions
- certain medicines – such as amiodarone, corticosteroidsand high doses of vitamins B6 and B12
Treatment and self help:
Because we don’t know what causes rosacea, treatment is based on relieving the symptoms rather than curing the condition.
Medical treatments include topical or oral medication such as long-term antibiotics and laser therapy to reduce facial redness and flushing.
But there’s also a lot you can do for yourself to keep your rosacea under control:
- avoid triggers as much as possible
- wear broad-spectrum SPF30 sun protection every single day
- manage stress by learning relaxation techniques and taking regular gentle exercise
- avoid spicy food and alcohol
Rosacea-prone skin is often highly sensitive and reactive. The most important principle in treating rosacea is to keep your skin care regime very simple. Oasis Beauty specialise in formulating skin care for the most sensitive skins and just 3 or 4 products is all you need to support optimal skin health if you suffer from rosacea.
Here’s our recommended skin care programme to support and restore rosacea prone skin:
Cleanse gently. Light Milk Cleanser is 100% soap-free and has a gentle antibacterial action.
Rinse face with lukewarm water and pat dry gently with a clean towel.
If your skin is feeling sore or irritated, apply a thin layer of Rhino Repair to soothe and restore hydration.
Protect every day with Oasis Sun SPF30. This provides great broad-spectrum sun protection, is never greasy and dries completely matte on the skin. It’s specifically designed for sensitive skin and will not exacerbate the rosacea.
Oasis Beauty BB Creams provide good coverage of redness with a natural finish.
Cleanse gently, ensuring all makeup is removed. Avoid oil-based cleansers. We recommend Light Milk Cleanser. A clean, damp face cloth is useful for removing excess makeup.
Restore and hydrate with Rhino Repair. Studies suggest that honey is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Dermatologists in NZ have seen very good results in the reduction of inflammation in rosacea when Rhino Repair is used every night.
Things to avoid in your skin care:
- Toners (including witch hazel, menthol, tea-tree oil)
- All products containing sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and lanolin
- Exfoliating, scrubs, deep cleanser masks
If rosacea is affecting your eyes, see your doctor to discuss treatment options. Blepharitis or dry eyes can be associated with rosacea. Lubricating drops may help but an eye specialist should be consulted for further assessment and treatment.
If you suffer from rosacea and would like to discuss your skin care options with our dermatology nurse Susan, click here to book a free, confidential consultation.