Are those Rosy Cheeks or is it Something More?
April is Rosacea Awareness Month so we thought it would be a great time to not only talk about this a bit more but to also introduce our rosacea skin care kits.
Rosacea is actually a quite common skin condition affecting over 16 million people in the United States. Despite its’ prevalence, many don’t quite understand why or how they got it. People typically notice symptoms in their 30’s. This can manifest as redness in the cheeks and sometimes nose. Tiny blood vessels may be seen in the skin adding to the red discoloration and bumps can appear, as well. These bumps can be filled with pus and can often be confused with pimples. The cheeks may feel hot or swollen and may burn or sting. There can be flares and symptoms can wax and wane. Over time, more commonly in men, long standing rosacea on the nose can cause the skin to thicken significantly. This is primarily because the oil glands enlarge which causes tissue buildup and skin thickening.
What causes rosacea? This is the frustrating part. We are not quite sure of the cause but it can be due to a combination of factors. Immunological factors, blood vessels, or microbes and other bacteria might play a role. Drinking hot fluids or eating spicy foods, alcohol intake, extreme temperatures, sun exposure or wind, certain cosmetics, or emotional stress can trigger symptoms and cause flares. This is generally because these triggers can cause the blood vessels to vasodilate or expand leading to increased redness and flushing.
While this is a common skin care condition, many people don’t actually seek treatment or delay treatment because they think their symptoms are temporary and don’t understand the disease itself. The fact of the matter is rosacea is a chronic disease that can progress and cause severe skin manifestations, so it’s important to seek medical advice. It can also cause mental and emotional distress with studies showing a significant decrease in self-esteem in these patients.
What can we do? Treatment involves controlling and reducing symptoms and reducing the number and frequency of flares. Unfortunately, there is no cure. Most cases are treated with multiple modalities including lifestyle changes, skin care, laser or light therapy, and drug therapy. Drug therapy can include various topical medications or several antibiotics that may be used off-label by your dermatologist. Light or laser therapy treat the vessel aspect of rosacea. By treating these vessels, the vessels collapse or scar, which prevents blood flow through them and ultimately results in a decrease in redness. It generally involves multiple treatments to achieve a notable result and may require “maintenance” treatments at regular intervals. Lifestyle changes include avoiding or minimizing anything that might trigger your flares. It is important to keep track of things you might be doing or eating when flares come on. Avoiding weather extremes, exercise, alcohol, sun exposure, certain cosmetics or skin care products can help if these are triggers for you. Skin care products are important in the overall treatment plan for rosacea as well. These are aimed at increasing the strength of the skin barrier and improving inflammation. Sunscreen, as usual, is key in protecting your skin from the damaging effects of UV rays.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, seek out medical care from your board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. If you are interested in skin care products that might help in controlling your symptoms, check out our rosacea regimens on our Instagram page, @thedrsmita.