What do Renee Zellegwer, Cameron Diaz, Mariah Carey, and Bill Clinton have in common? They are four of the 16 million Americans who have to deal with a form of sensitive skin called rosacea. For reasons that are not clear, the skin tends to flush easily and stay red. It is more common in women with fair skin, but its also seen in men and people with darker eyes and coloring.
There are two main forms of rosacea:
1– The most common and mildest form consists primarily of bright red skin and numerous small broken blood vessels on the skin’s surface. Why this happens is not clear ( genetics?) but certain triggers seems to bring trigger flare-ups. Sunlight is the biggest culprit, followed closely by alcohol, spicy foods, stress, chocolate, coffee and hot showers.
2– The second form of rosacea has similar redness but now the skin also has pimple like breakouts that don’t respond to traditional care. There is some evidence that bacteria and yeast microorganisms are part of the problem. Sunlight and the other well-known rosacea trigger also contribute to outbreaks of this type of rosacea.
Treatment of Rosacea
Treatment starts with trying to avoid factors which provoke flushing. This type of sensitive skin is very suseptible to cosmetics and should avoid irritating ingredients including alcohol, witch hazel, fragrance, and menthol. Many experts advise against exfoliating agents such as scrubbing grains, glycolic acid and complexion brushes. Effective sun protection is key. Use an oil-free physical sunscreen with zinc or titanium oxide like Sensitive Skin SPF30 by Neutrogena. As good as they are, chemical sunscreens can be too irritating for rosacea-prone skin. To reduce inflammation, bathing the skin with fresh milk and oatmeal solutions can provide relief. Lasers, especially IPL, have proved to be extremely helpful to reduce redness. They close off the tiny blood vessels in the skin,shutting off the source of the flushing.
There are additional treatment options for the acne like form of rosacea. Topical antibiotics like MetroGel or anti-inflammatory lotions like Finacea can reduce break-outs. Cleansing pads with sulfa like Prascion will also get to the micro-organisms that can be part of the problem. For severe rosacea, doctors can prescribe low-dose oral antibiotics like Oracea.
One final word: Cortisone creams which are used for so successfully for so many skin problems actually make rosacea worse. They have actually been known to provoke its one type of rosacea. While steroids can temorarily improve the skin, the problems rebound when they are stopped
For more information on visit the National Rosacea Society http://www.rosacea.org.
Next post– Just because its red doesn’t mean its rosacea.