Rosacea is a condition that affects around 45 million people around the world, but it’s poorly understood by many, including some of those suffering from it! Today we’re taking a look at what this condition is, what causes it and what treatments are available so it all feels less mysterious, and hopefully less scary.
Rosacea: What is it?
Rosacea affects mostly people entering middle age, but instances in the younger are far from unknown. It often starts with episodes of flushing, as the skin becomes red and feels warm for brief periods, but it develops into a longer-term reddening and irritation of the skin, with the potential for burning and stinging sensations, spots developing and small veins in the skin becoming visible.
It’s what’s known as a relapsing condition which means episodes of particular intensity can be triggered, but they can grow less severe over time before being triggered again.
Doctors don’t yet know what causes rosacea, but they have been able to observe factors that can trigger an episode, including especially hot or cold weather, alcohol or caffeine, and stress. Clearly, it’s not possible to avoid every trigger, so we also need to look at treatment, so you know where to turn if you are affected.
How to Treat It
There are lots of different treatments for rosacea available, so, working with a doctor or private clinician you can choose the one that best fits your needs at the time.
One of the most simple things you can do is identify what triggers your rosacea episodes and do your best to avoid these triggers. It needs some thought and diligent record keeping – so you know what you’ve eaten and drunk on any given day, the temperature, whether you were out in the sun – but when you can find that link and know you can dramatically improve your rosacea by, for example, cutting coffee out of your diet, it’s well worth it!
When the condition progresses, it can be very difficult. As well as the discomfort, which can be eased with topical creams, the sheer visibility makes even the most confident person self-conscious and can cause plunging self-esteem. Fortunately, cosmetic treatments are available that can reduce or even eliminate the visible signs of rosacea. Laser light can target the visible veins to reduce their size, while IPL for redness can reduce the irritation and inflammation of your skin.
Living With Rosacea
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is accept that you have a life long condition, and while it may not be pleasant, both the physical and mental effects can be managed to reduce its impact on your life.
Finding a support network of others with rosacea is one of the most important things you can do: other people who know your experience inside out, because they’ve lived it, and can offer advice or simply understanding whenever you need it. The National Rosacea Society can be a good starting point for finding your support network, as well as advice for further treatment and management.