What is Rosacea?
In Asia, a lot of women like to have fair skin as there is a phrase in Chinese 「一白遮三醜」- A white complexion is powerful enough to hide seven faults.
Unfortunately, women with fair skin are prone to develop rosacea after 30. Especially those have family history of rosacea, smoke and have been damaged by the sun.
There are four types of rosacea and people can suffer more than one concurrently. The first two types associated with flushing face and pus are the most common. Often, the redness in butterfly-shape is developed across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose. Pimples could also be developed and overtime the skin is thickened and becomes uneven.
The third type affect the nose (mostly on men) and the fourth type has symptoms mainly around the eyes.
Apart from the above, one suffers from rosacea could result in
- inflammation and sensitivity (with lesion sometimes)
- stratum corneum permeability barrier impairment
- more trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL)
- diffused and persistent facial erythema
Factors to trigger the flare up:
Cause is still unknown, but the flare-up could be triggered by different factors. The common factors are extreme temperature, sunlight and wind; alcoholic beverages, hot drinks and spicy foods, etc. Exercise which could result in blood vessel dilation could also be a trigger. It is also found that having the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori, a skin mite called demodex and the bacterium it carries “Bacillus oleronius”, and the presence of cathelicidin (a protein that protects the skin from infection) can also worsen the symptoms.
A research from the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology has identified some potential skin irritants used in OTC products that could potentially incite cutaneous irritation for rosacea patients. They are acetone, alcohol, Propylene glycol, AHA, SLS, Benzalkonium chloride, formaldehyde releasers, menthol, benzyl alcohol, camphor, urea, pyrriolidonic carboxylic acid, lanolin, fragrances.
Careful observation on your daily habit or surroundings would be important in identifying what trigger your flare up as what affects me may not be the trigger for you. It could be as ordinary as the whitening toothpaste, which triggered my flare up.
Prevention and treatment:
Rosacea is a chronic disease which cannot be cured, but you can prevent the flare up or control the symptoms by taking some steps.
Getting the diagnosis from doctor is absolutely the first thing to do. Usually, doctors will give a regimen of antibiotic creams and oral antibiotics as the treatment plan.
In terms of daily skincare routine, people with rosacea are advised to use gentle cleansers, oil-free, water-based skin-care products. In addition to the ingredients of OTC skin products mentioned above, witch hazel and exfoliating agents should also be avoided as they may irritate your symptoms.
For the daily habit, avoid direct sunlight and wear sunscreen are important. Alcoholic and hot drinks, smoking, spicy food and food that contain compound cinnamaldehyde (eg. cinnamon, chocolate, tomatoes and citrus) should also be avoided.
As mentioned in my previous blog “Psychological stress and skin health”, 94% of rosacea is triggered by stress as the brain and skin share the same receptor pathways. An example would be the accumulation of cortisol, which is secreted when we are in stress, and in turn disrupts skin barrier function. In addition, one could become psychological down or depressed during the flare up leading to the worsening of symptoms. Taking all these into consideration, a holistic approach would be more effective and efficient to deal with rosacea in my view.
The precious gift from the nature - essential oil can deal both the psychological and skin issues, in particular some of them are useful in regulating certain response in the innate immune system upon the development of rosacea, such as Santalum album and Pelargonium graveolens.
Having rosacea is very depressing as once it has been developed, it will follow through for the rest of life. However, it is preventable or controllable. The key is to boost immune system and keep a relaxed mind.
References: Mayoclinic, Healthline, Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology