What Is Rosacea and are there any treatments?

Graphic showing different types of rosacea

Rosacea is a common and chronic skin problem that usually affects the face. In this, the facial skin gets a reddish tone, often as flushing bumps. Some people get acne-like pimples, breakouts in some areas which also cause itching and in some cases spider veins. Rosacea often gets flared with triggers such as sun, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food etc. Women are more likely to get Rosacea but when men get it, it often progresses to more severe stages. One reason for this can be that men are less likely to seek treatment for their problems.

There are four different types of Rosacea, but many people are affected by more than one of these types.

  1. Erythematotelangiectatic or vascular rosacea which is characterized by persistent redness on the face, caused by enlarged small blood vessels that look like they are broken.
  2. Papulopustular or acne rosacea that appears on the forehead, the cheeks and chin in the form of blemishes and red swollen bumps. Simply put this is acne combined with rosacea. Facial redness and flushing connected to the other types of rosacea may appear as well.
  3. Phymatous rosacea which causes skin to thicken and scar. It makes the skin bumpy, swollen, and sometimes discoloured, especially around the nose. This type of rosacea is more common in men than in women.
  4. Ocular rosacea affects the eyes leading to dryness and redness, causing them to look bloodshot and swollen.

The science has no answer on what causes rosacea. It could be genetically caused, a bacteria or sensitivity to something the environment, or a mix of all three.

Part of the explanation could be that the mechanisms that control the function of the blood vessels in the face, somehow start an inflammatory process. However, a bacteria that could cause rosacea have never been found, although antibiotics are often used in treatment.

Anything that causes normal red face can also flare up the rosacea. Try eating very spicy food even if you have no rosacea and you may observe a red flush on your face. Some examples of these triggers are:

  • Sun exposure
  • Eating Spicy Food
  • Change in temperature
  • Stress
  • Excess exercising
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Irritating facial cosmetics

Once you know about these flare ups, you need to find out what causes more trouble to you. Avoid all of them as much as possible and you will be keeping your rosacea under control.

Though there is no cure for rosacea, it can be controlled. Let us find out more.

Treatment

Because the signs and symptoms of rosacea vary from one patient to another, a physician must tailor treatment to each case.

Rosacea symptoms can be controlled by continuous drug treatment and by avoiding triggers. Note that all drug treatments require time to give full effect.

What has been shown in clinical studies is that if rosacea is treated until the skin is completely symptom-free (no rash or redness), there is a greater possibility of experiencing a longer period without symptoms and thus a longer treatment-free period. This compared to if rosacea is treated only until the skin is almost symptom-free.

Lifestyle Changes

  •  Try to cut down on carbohydrates. Recent research has found that low-carb diets have had a positive effect on acne. In frequency, duration and severity. Similar benefits could potentially be seen when treating rosacea.
  • Use “old-fashioned” sunscreen formulas. Instead of chemical blocking substances, found in many modern sunscreens, which also can be irritating to the skin, go for products that have physical blockers, that are not easily absorbed. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are examples of the latter.
  • An important part of treating rosacea is to identify if there are specific events or factors in the environment that are causing the symptoms to return. Think back and take notes to identify potential patterns.
  • Increase your fiber intake. Even if it doesn’t directly improve the rosacea symptoms, it can help to reduce inflammation in the body in general and this is in general always something good.

 

Dietary Supplements

  1.  Vitamin B3 can be found in two forms; niacin (aka nicotinic acid) OR Please be aware though that only the latter, niacinamide has anti-inflammatory qualities that may help many dermatologic skin conditions, including acne and rosacea. Make sure not to get these two types confused as niacin may cause facial flushing and actually make rosacea look worse. In a trial known as “The Nicomide Improvement in Clinical Outcomes Study, (NICOS) a dietary supplement containing niacinamide, zinc, copper and folic acid  reduced the severity of rosacea and also acne, after 4-8 weeks of daily use.
  2. Azelaic acid (topical cream) is available both on prescription with 15-20% strength and as an over-the-counter formula in 3-10% concentrations. Azelaic acid is found naturally in wheat, rye and barley. It triggers the release of salicylic acid and other defense compounds and is used by the plant as a warning signal when they are invaded or infected. As an antimicrobial topical you usually apply it on affected areas 2-3 times a day until the redness starts to fade.
  3. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids Omega-3 and -6 have been shown to be effective for treating dry eye. Even though these supplements haven’t been researched for ocular rosacea in particular, (see above about the different types of rosacea) they do work well for similar conditions so it could be worth asking your dermatologist If you can try omega-3 or omega-6 also for facial redness and dryness. An alternative to marine- or fish oil-based omega-3 supplements is simply to take 1-2 tablespoons daily of flaxseed oil. This intake is equivalent with the 3,300 milligram-per-day dose that has shown anti-inflammatory benefits for the eyes in scientific research and studies. If you are allergic to marine products or just prefer not to take them , or have not seen enough benefits from just omega-3, you can also take 2-300 milligrams of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), in the form of soft gels supplements in combination with 100-200 milligrams of linolenic (LA) either as soft gels or in the form of evening primrose oil, black currant oil or borage oil. If your rosacea doesn’t improve in 3-4 months of taking either type of omega-3 or omega-6 on its own, then you can try combining them. The main benefit in combining them as regards rosacea, is their ability to fight inflammation in different ways. If you want to combine omega-3 and omega-6, try taking 750-1,000 milligrams, either as fish or 1,000 milligrams of flaxseed oil PLUS up to 100 milligrams of GLA OR 150 milligrams of LA.

 

 

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General Tips for Healthy Skin

Taking care of your skin is one of the most important ways to maintain a healthy, youthful glow that is so important to beauty today. A healthy skin will appear to glow and radiate warmth, ensuring a look that all will be happy to see. There are several do’s and dont’s when it comes to preserving the health of your skin, and some of them may surprise you in their contrast to what common knowledge dictates is beauty.

 

One of the worst myths when it comes to having beautiful skin is that a tan is a necessity. To most people, tanned skin is indeed appealing, and even cancer research has never been able to fully deter people from desiring that bronzed look in themselves and in others. Over the years, several rumors have started about safe tanning methods which are supposed to give all the advantages of a tan without the harmful effects. It is very important to know, however, that methods such as tanning lamps both commercially and at home still operate by using the same ultraviolet rays that come from the sun, and all the dangers of the natural rays are also inherent to those that are manufactured. Skin cancer, of course, is the most serious problem that arises out of exposure to UV rays. Other problems can also occur. Sun damage cause skin to wrinkle prematurely, and also may make the skin leathery and scaly. If you must have a tan, the safest way that will cause the least amount of damage to your skin is to use a tanning lotion (one that gives the appearance of a tan).

 

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Because none of us can avoid the sun and its impact on our skin, it is also important to take ongoing care of skin by using different methods. Keeping skin moisturized means keeping it healthy, and this will also prevent premature aging. Watch out for beauty products that contain items like extract of cucumber. Applying cucumbers (especially to the eyes) is a well-known method of maintaining healthy skin, but it is in fact nothing about the cucumber that helps skin. Instead, it is the amount of water found in cucumbers that helps to hydrate and take care of the skin appearance. If you are paying for a lotion that advertises a cucumber extract, then you are paying too much.

Another way in which people damage their skin is by excessive washing. This happens frequently with teenagers who are going through the pain of acne. The fact is, washing too much may make acne worse, and can also be very detrimental to overall skin health in the long run.

Finally, a healthy diet will equal a healthy skin. Make sure your everyday meals include the proper amounts of vitamins known to contribute to healthy skin, such as Vitamin A, C, E, Zinc, Chromium, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Pantothenic Acid, Niacinamide, and Pyroxidine. You can get these vital nutrients through careful planning of your meals or by the inclusion of a multivitamin- make sure to read the label to ensure it contains all of these essential vitamins.

 

 

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This text is partly inspired by the work of Mark Moyad and Janet Lee and especially their book “The Supplement Handbook” published 2014.

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This article is only for informative purposes. This article is not intended to be a medical advise and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor for your medical concerns. Please follow any tip given in this article only after consulting your doctor. The author is not liable for any outcome or damage resulting from information obtained from this article.

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