Rosacea is a common skin disorder that mainly affects the face, but can also affect the neck, back or chest. The most common and best-known symptom is reddened skin. Small blood vessels sometimes become visible, and some people develop pimples. Rosacea can irritate the eyes and make them bloodshot. In severe cases, rosacea can cause a condition called rhinophyma, in which the nose becomes bulbous and swollen.
What Causes Rosacea?
Researchers are not yet sure what causes this condition. Some speculate that it may be a symptom of a generalized blood vessel disorder. Others believe it might be linked to connective tissue problems.
Other theories hold that it might be caused by a fungus or skin mites. It often runs in families and is most common in people of Irish or English descent. It is more common in women, but men develop the more severe symptoms.
What is a Flare-Up?
Rosacea is a condition in which the patient goes through periods of remission during which they show few or no symptoms. During a rosacea flare-up, their symptoms suddenly become worse. The patient’s blood vessels suddenly expand and cause their face to redden. Such rosacea flare-ups are caused by environmental or lifestyle factors called triggers.
According to a survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society, sun exposure was the most common trigger, affecting 81% of respondents. Other common triggers were emotional stress (79%), hot weather (75%), wind (57%), intensive exercise (56%), alcohol (52%) and hot baths (51%). Less common triggers included cold weather, spicy foods, humidity, indoor heat and some cosmetics and skin care products.
How Can Rosacea Flare-Ups Be Prevented?
The first step in preventing a flare-up is to identify likely triggers. One way to do so is to keep a journal in which the patient records when they have a flare-up and under what circumstances. Over a two-week period, the patient keeps records of all of their rosacea flare-ups and their likely causes.
The National Rosacea Society provides a diary for this purpose. It includes a checklist of known rosacea triggers that groups them by category (weather conditions, activities, foods and beverages, etc.). It also asks the patient to rate the state of their rosacea.
After identifying their trigger or triggers, the patient looks for ways to minimize their impact. For example, a person who has identified skin care products or cosmetics as a trigger will either avoid them altogether or look for products designed for people with rosacea and/or sensitive skin. Conversely, they will avoid products that sting, burn or irritate the skin or contain ingredients like alcohol or witch hazel, which are often linked to rosacea flare-ups.
The most common triggers reported are sun exposure and emotional stress. A rosacea patient should therefore limit their time out in the sun. They should use a sunscreen when outside. A rosacea patient should also learn techniques for managing their stress.
Learn About Your Treatment Options
With locations in Okemos, Carson City and St. Johns, Doctor’s Approach Dermatology may be able to help you reduce visible signs of rosacea. From topical medications to IPL therapy, we have a variety of treatment options available depending on your unique circumstance. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to learn more.