The effects of rosacea on the face go way beyond the physical. This incurable skin condition is most prevalent among fair-skinned Europeans, and is thought to affect up to ten percent of people.
The fact that it is fair-skin which is affected the most is something of a cruel twist of fate – rosacea on darker skin would be much less noticeable, and therefore the psychological affects would be much lower.
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- Redness of the face, blushing and flushing
- Red pimples
- Visible red broken veins (spider veins)
- Dry, rough, or scaly skin
- Burning or stinging
- Swelling of the skin
I suffer from rosacea, and of the above list I can relate to four of those symptoms, the flushing, the dryness, occasional burning and the pimples. However, pimples suggests small spots when in fact, in my case at least, I have large, angry pustules on my cheeks, sometimes a dozen or more at once and they are extremely sore.
I have tried many remedies to try and control the flare ups – some prescription, some natural, some worked, and most didn’t.
I’m lucky in that my flare ups are becoming less frequent – whether that is my age or my skin care I don’t know, but it is worth the trial and error to find something that works for you.
Below is a list of available treatments for rosacea – those I have tried I will comment on, and those I haven’t may be worth you trying if you have yet to find a suitable regimen.
There are many topical creams and gels available to treat rosacea, and which one you are prescribed will depend on your doctor. You are likely to be prescribed one or more of the following:
Of these treatments, the only one I have tried was the Metronidazole. I found that for me it did work to an extent, in that it seemed to take the edge off a flare up, and because it is a gel (it is also available in cream form), it felt wonderfully cooling when I first applied it. However, and this is what made me stop using it, when it dries it flakes off, like a peelable face mask, and you end up with what looks like spiders web all over your face. I reserved it for night time use only.
If rosacea doesn’t respond to the topical treatments, your doctor may suggest taking oral antibiotics instead of/in addition to your topical treatment. As rosacea is not thought to be caused by any bacteria, it is not known why antibiotics work at controlling the condition, except that certain antibiotics work by reducing inflammation, which is probably why they are sometimes considered here.
Aside from antibiotics, another treatment which may be considered is isotretinoin, which is commonly used for severe acne. It is a very strong medicine and comes with a range of side effects, so prescribing is usually done by a specialist.
Facial Redness Treatment
Relatively new to the market is a topical gel called Brimonidine tartrate, which works by restricting dilation of the blood vessels in the face – in turn this should mean less redness.
As rosacea can be aggravated by stress and anxiety, and the ensuing blushing caused by it, beta blockers can be prescribed to decrease the activity of the heart and calm the patient down.
Laser treatment works by damaging the dilated blood vessels and shrinking them so that they are no longer visible on the face. However, this can be costly and some people find it painful.
While some of the above treatments might work well for you, I found the list of side effects too long to keep taking risks with, so I began to look for natural approaches to treating my rosacea.
First of all I stopped using harsh chemicals on my face. My skin was already damaged from the rosacea and was quite dry and tender, so I stopped with the exfoliating, and the chemical laden creams. I also kept make up to a minimum, because it just felt wrong to be clogging my pores with cosmetics when my skin was struggling to heal.
It is widely accepted among natural health practitioners that rosacea, as with most conditions, is a ‘whole body’ problem.
It is no secret that food which we eat can manifest itself on the skin. How many times have you noticed, or heard someone say, that they can’t eat cheese or chocolate for instance because it will bring them out in spots? That is more than an old wives’ tale – what is going on in your stomach really does affect your skin (and every other part of your body).
Try and cut out inflammatory foods such as:
- Processed foods
- Dairy products (from a cow)
- Fried or fatty foods
Instead, stick (as much as you can) to anti-inflammatory foods:
- Organic fruit and vegetables
- Healthy fats such as coconut oil or olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Grass fed meats and wild salmon
- Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, etc.)
For a more comprehensive list of anti-inflammatory foods click here.
It has been shown that the sun’s rays can aggravate rosacea, so wearing a protective sun screen is a must to try and keep flare ups at bay.
A mineral one is your best bet, as it is better for your skin all round and doesn’t contain as many chemicals.
Again, avoid artificial, chemical laden products. Moisture is a must for the already dry skin of rosacea, so using something simple and pure like coconut oil is perfect, although you should do a skin test first as some people react to coconut oil.
This is the only moisturiser I use on my face, and it really does seem to help keep the redness at bay, as well as keeping my skin hydrated.
You can further improve the efficacy of coconut oil by adding three drops of essential oil to half a teaspoon of coconut oil, and applying daily. Particularly good for rosacea are:
- Tea Tree
NEVER use essential oils directly on the skin as they are highly potent in their undiluted form, but in a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, they can provide enormous benefit to your skin. (Again, a patch test is advisable).
Rosacea can be hell to live with, affecting self-esteem, confidence and feelings of self-worth. But with patience and effort you can find a treatment, or treatments, which work for you.