Red Face Solutions
How much do you know about rosacea (rose-AY-shuh)? Have you heard about this condition that's marked by very red, flushed skin, pimples, and even cracked, flaking skin? It can cause burning, itching, and pain. If it spreads to your eyes, it makes your eyes feel like you have sand trapped under the eyelids. Bulbous growths and thick skin may form on and around your nose. Rosacea is not a skin condition that gets a lot of press, yet millions of people have it.
My Rosacea Story
At the age of 16, I had my first experience with a horribly red face. I was in Algebra II, sitting under the intense overhead fluorescent lighting. My teacher looked at me and said: “Do you have a fever? Why are you so flushed? I don’t want a sick person in my classroom. Go to the nurse now!” It was embarrassing to be called out in class like that. It was worse that this wasn't going to be the last time.
In the nurse’s office, I was still flushed, but she found no signs of a fever and assumed I was simply sunburned, which I knew I was not. Yet, the redness persisted throughout the school day. The minute I left for the day, my skin was back to normal. I quickly learned to associate my episodes of flushing with the fluorescent lighting. Little did I know at that time that many people with rosacea are extremely sensitive to artificial lighting.
By the time I turned 30, I was dealing with two of the subtypes of rosacea: redness and pimples. I tried Clearasil, and it made it worse. I stopped wearing cosmetics, and it improved. I'd try a new moisturizer designed for breakouts and it worsened. It was not getting better unless I stopped using any skin creams, cleansers, and cosmetics. A trip to the doctor confirmed my suspicions. I was diagnosed with rosacea and put on Metrogel. Like many others, Metrogel stopped helping after about a year.
In my 40s, ocular rosacea kicked in. I’ve heard all of the comments that people with a flushed, red face hear. “Have you been drinking? You look like you’ve been drinking.” “Someone spent way too much time out in the sun yesterday.” “Do you feel okay? You’re really flushed. Should I call a doctor? Have you had your blood pressure checked recently? Maybe you need to sit down?” Once again, I headed to the doctor to discuss this new issue. Flaxseed oil, fish oil, warm compresses, and lubricating eye drops for dry eyes were the answer.
I’m not here as a medical expert. In fact, I urge you to see your doctor about your concerns with facial flushing and facial redness and asking to see a dermatologist for help. Insist on seeing a dermatologist if your insurance will cover it. While rosacea is incredibly common, it’s not the only disease or condition that can cause facial redness. Make sure you're not dealing with another chronic condition or skin issue.
If you are diagnosed with rosacea, I’m here to share my experiences and hopefully get others who are dealing with a red face to share their stories and offer suggestions on what helps them. One thing is true of rosacea. There is no cure, and what treatment works for one person may not help you at all.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a skin disorder consisting of five subtypes. These subtypes are:
- Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea: With subtype 1, persistent flushing and redness of the face are clearly visible. Sometimes the blood vessels on the face become visible.
- Papulopustular Rosacea: In addition to the facial redness from subtype 1, those with subtype 2 develop what looks like acne. Pimples and bumps form on top of the red facial skin.
- Phymatous Rosacea: Subtype 3, also known as rhinophyma, is one of the most disfiguring forms of rosacea. The skin thickens, especially over the nose, and causes the nose to look bulbous and deformed. This form of rosacea is more common in men.
- Ocular Rosacea: Finally, there is subtype 4, a form of rosacea that gets into the eyes. Those with ocular rosacea frequently feel like there is some sand or an eyelash in the eye. They are also more likely to develop painful styes on the eyelid.
- Neurogenic Rosacea: Pain and burning join rosacea's redness and inflammation.
There is no cure for rosacea, and there does not seem to be any specific cause. There are plenty of theories, but there's nothing solid to point to a real rosacea cause.
Rosacea is more common in people with fair skin, and it’s more common in women. According to the National Rosacea Society, approximately 16 million people in the United States have rosacea. It can appear at any age, but studies by the National Rosacea Society found that 43 percent of rosacea sufferers stated their rosacea appeared between the ages of 30 and 50. For some women, the skin condition eases after menopause, but it's not a guarantee.
What Causes Rosacea?
No one has found any proven cause of rosacea. Based on research, there seem to be a few possibilities.
One thing to realize about rosacea is that every case is different. Four generations of my family (Irish/English heritage) have had rosacea. Some do find that your genetic makeup and even your heritage can determine if you will end up with rosacea, but it’s not always the case.
There’s also evidence that the Demodex mite, the same mite behind demodectic mange in dogs, can lead to the flushing and red-faced appearance. It's believed that rosacea is triggered by bacteria found in the mites.
You always have mites living on your skin and eating your dead skin cells. When the mites die, the bacteria within their bodies get onto the skin as they decompose. Their body fluids trigger your skin to become inflamed and infected. Some men and women successfully treat rosacea with ivermectin, a medication many veterinarians use to treat parasites in animals.
Some of the beneficial bacteria found in your intestines are responsible for the production of a polypeptide that triggers dilation in blood vessels. Some researchers feel that the bacteria may be overproducing this polypeptide in certain people leading to more dilation and flushing. Some people with rosacea find that probiotic-rich foods and probiotic supplements are helpful.
The Best Treatment for Rosacea
As there is no cure for rosacea, treatment of the symptoms is of the utmost importance. There are five components to treatment:
- Finding Your Triggers
- Skin Care
- Prescription Medications
- Homeopathic Treatment Options
- See a Dermatologist
Finding Your Triggers
Finding your triggers is essential to easing the facial redness caused by rosacea. Learn more about common triggers and what you can do to avoid flushing and the red face appearance by finding out what your specific triggers are. Read the full article on Finding Your Rosacea Triggers to see what foods cause flare-ups.
Many foods trigger the symptoms of rosacea, so it’s important to know what foods you should and should not be eating. Every person with a persistent red face will find him or herself having to change their diet. From time to time, I’ll share recipes that are suited to people with rosacea on the Red Face Solutions Facebook Community. I welcome readers to do the same. I'm always excited to try something new.
Natural is better when dealing with a red face from rosacea. Most rosacea sufferers find that products with chemicals and perfumes irritate the face. This is another area where trial and error is necessary to find what helps you. I will be recommending products that work for me and encourage others to share their favorite products.
Prescription medications help reduce the redness of the face. They can be costly, so you need to weigh the pros and cons. Learn more about these medications and see if they might be something you want to talk to your doctor about.
Homeopathic Treatment Options
Many rosacea sufferers prefer to try homeopathic treatment options for rosacea. First, the cost is often more appealing than paying for a prescription medication, and second, over time some prescriptions simply stop working effectively. In here, you will find a number of oils, creams, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements that have helped people with rosacea.
See a Dermatologist/What to Expect at a Doctor Visit
I highly recommend seeing a dermatologist to make sure you do have rosacea and not something that can seem similar to rosacea, such as adult acne or eczema. If possible, bring a list of your typical diet, any facial moisturizers, cosmetics, and skin cleansers you use regularly, and a list of medications, vitamins, and supplements you take.