Answer: April is Rosacea Awareness Month and the perfect time to answer this question. Rosacea is a common skin problem that affects an estimated 16 million Americans. It causes frequent skin flushing, acne like breakouts, skin thickening and can even affect the eyes. While there are a number of theories out there, we don’t really know the cause. What we do know is that people with rosacea have an overactive immunue response to foods and the environment. In response to sunlight, spicy foods, alcohol and heat, they over produce natural antibiotics called cathlicidens.This causes blood vessels to expand and the skin to look red and irritated.
Rosacea Differences in Men and Women
While it is 3X as common in women, men are 2X more likely to develop more severe skin problems with thickened skin on cheeks and on the nose. Part of the problem in treating rosacea in men is dealing with their beard. Daily shaving can be extremely irritating and leave it prone to breakouts and infection. In addition shaving creams and after shave lotions usually contain ingredients like menthol, mint and camphor. These are designed to cool the skin and relieve “razor burn”, but in men with rosacea they can trigger flushing. A better option would be a electric razor that does not require additional products and whose blades do not scrape the skin. Another option would be to actually grow a tidy, neat beard. It will hide flushing and will avoid irritation of a daily shave. While a beard may mean its harder to treat the skin, Dr Gary Goldenberg of Mount Sinai Medical Center believes that it won’t increase symptoms.
Its also important that your husband avoid rosacea triggers. He should wear a mineral based sunscreen every day ( if he does grow a beard, he should use the sunscreen on the areas the beard does not cover. He should avoid alcohol, spicy food, saunas, and very hot coffe and soup. Exercise can really provoke flushing, so its important to take a cool shower after a gym workout or long run.
One final thought: Studies have shown that people with rosacea have an increased risk of heart disease. Some researchers believe that its due to the frequent high levels of inflammation in the body. Its important that he watch his cholesterol, control blood pressure and get an annual check up that includes an EKG. And he is lucky to hve a wife who cares!