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Rosacea triggers and treatments

Around the ages of 30 to 50, many people notice a persisting red flush across their nose and cheeks. It can look like acne, with redness, bumps, and slight swelling. This is most likely a skin condition called rosacea, and there are many reasons why we get it. Let’s explore some common triggers and treatments for rosacea.

 

What is rosacea?

Rosacea may begin as a tendency to flush easily, but gradually progresses to consistent redness across the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. Small blood vessels, pimples, and red bumps can appear, and this is when it’s time to seek professional advice and treatment.

When left untreated, rosacea can advance into a condition called rhinophyma, in which oil glands and blood vessels on the nose become enlarged to form a thick bulbous lump, which may require surgery.

About half of patients with rosacea also experience burning, inflammation or swelling in the eyes.

People with an English or Irish background are most likely to develop rosacea, and the skin condition is most common in women aged 30 to 50.

Almost everyone who develops rosacea has a history of flushing, but just because you flush, it doesn’t mean you have rosacea. People with early rosacea will flush more and more frequently and with more triggers, until it becomes somewhat permanent. It’s important to seek a professional diagnosis from a doctor.

 

Rosacea triggers

We’re all different, but some of the most common causes of rosacea are:

  • Family history
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Exercise
  • Certain foods and beverages
  • Hot weather or sun
  • Saunas or spa baths
  • Some skincare products
  • Stress

 

Identifying your personal triggers

The first step to treating rosacea is to work with your doctor to identify the triggers for your specific case. It could be one or several of the common causes listed above, or something entirely different.

Rosacea can continue for decades, so the small things you do every day can make a difference in the progression and treatment of the problem.

Your doctor may advise you to experiment eliminating one possible trigger at a time to see if this changes your symptoms. This might mean keeping a food diary, cutting out spicy foods, avoiding alcohol for several weeks, staying out of the sun, or changing topical skincare products – just to name a few.

These small lifestyle changes are one of the mainstays of rosacea treatments. The more effectively you can eliminate the things that trigger your skin flushing, the more successful your doctor can be with their prescription rosacea treatments.

 

Skincare products and rosacea

Your everyday skincare products can irritate your rosacea and make symptoms worse. As such, it’s important to use gentle, non-drying skincare products designed for sensitive skin. Your doctor will recommend specific products that suit your skin, and you should follow the doctor's skincare plan carefully.

You will need to wash your face twice a day with warm but not hot water. Hot water will aggravate redness, so avoid washing your face in a hot shower or spraying high-pressure water directly in your face. Pat your skin dry – never rub.

 

Rosacea treatments

Rosacea doesn't have a one-treatment-fits-all solution, but some effective treatments for rosacea include:

  • Lifestyle changes to eliminate triggers
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Skincare products
  • LED light therapy
  • HydraFacial
  • Vampire Facial

Depending on the severity of your rosacea, your doctor may prescribe several treatments at once to be used together. You might begin by making a small lifestyle change to eliminate the cause of your rosacea (for example, stop eating soy products) and start a course of topical creams, while also commencing a cycle of LED light therapy for skin repair and rejuvenation.

Rosacea can sometimes be difficult to treat, especially when a patient has suffered with the condition for a long time, which is why early treatment is so important. Once a treatment regime has been established and the rosacea goes away, you might need future maintenance treatments.

 

Does rosacea need to be treated?

Rosacea is not painful for most people, and the condition itself can’t hurt you unless it progresses to rhinophyma. Some people aren’t bothered by the permanent red flush and never seek treatment, and that’s ok. However, the majority of people who suffer with rosacea do wish to fix it.

Many people with rosacea are motivated to see a doctor when:

  • The constant flushing interferes with their work or social life because it’s causing embarrassment, self-esteem issues, or anxiety.
  • The condition gets too hard or time-consuming to conceal every day with makeup.
  • Others start to assume they are alcoholics because of the red flush.
  • They have a family history of rosacea and realise their symptoms will only worsen.

 

If you would like to speak to a Skin Doctor or Skin Therapist about your skin concerns, please call us or book your appointment online.

Written by National Skin Cancer Centres