Dealing with rosacea

Caroline Cassidy

Rosacea is a common, long-term skin condition that causes the skin, usually on the face, to flush and turn red. Though not a threat to physical health, sufferers often develop low self esteem as a result of their appearance.

how to treat rosacea
how to treat rosacea

Pic: Getty

The condition affects an estimated one in ten people, and can occur at any age. However, it most commonly affects those with fair skin, and women between the ages of 30 and 60 are three times more likely to develop rosacea.

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Some experience just a mild flushing of the skin, but as the condition progresses, it can result in permanent redness, a burning or stinging sensation, spots, and small blood vessels in the skin becoming visible. In severe cases, an unsightly thickening of the skin can occur, often on or around the nose.

Though there is no cure for the condition, there are treatments available that may help, and a number of factors that can cause a flare-up that are well worth avoiding.

Common triggers
The weather, what you eat, and your stress levels can all result in a flare-up or worsen the symptoms of rosacea. According to the NHS, the most commonly reported trigger is exposure to sunlight, so it is essential to wear sunscreen if your condition is proving a problem, even when it is overcast outside. Unfortunately, cold weather also tends to worsen the condition.

Stress is another factor that many sufferers find worsens their symptoms, while alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and dairy products are often mentioned in relation to the condition flaring up.

If your symptoms are becoming more and more severe, or the condition is affecting your self esteem, your GP should be the first port of call. For mild symptoms your doctor may prescribe a topical cream or gel, though their effectiveness varies from person to person.

Redness and visible blood vessels can also be treated with laser and intense pulsed light (IPL), which may be prescribed by a dermatologist. This technique targets visible blood vessels in the skin, causing them to shrink. However, this treatment is unlikely to be available on the NHS.

However, there are also over the counter creams that can really help, as well as makeup items to reduce the appearance of rosacea. Avene offers two products for the relief of skin redness - Redness Relief (£13) and Relief Concentrate for Chronic Redness (£20), which can quickly calm both redness and soreness. Ole Henriksen's Nurture Me product (£32) has may also help with the symptoms, and though expensive, you only need a little to see and feel the results.

Corticosteroids, which are available over the counter, should be avoided by rosacea sufferers, as they can make things worse with prolonged use.

Meanwhile there are plenty of cosmetics designed to mask redness such as green-tinted primers and concealers, while oil-free foundations, mineral powders, for instance, are best since they won't irritate your skin.

General skincare
As a rosacea sufferer, it is important to avoid anything that could irritate your skin, so choosing the right skincare products is essential. Look for gentle, non-abrasive cleansers and moisturisers that are fragrance and alcohol free and hypoallergenic.
Many find that washing with lukewarm water helps, and it's best to allow skin to dry thoroughly before applying creams or makeup. It is essential to treat the skin gently, so avoid rubbing or scrubbing the skin with your hands or with a towel or flannel.

Rosacea can be a difficult condition to deal with, and for many it's a trial and error process to find the creams or treatments that work. If you are struggling with the symptoms and have had no success with over the counter treatments and products, do not be afraid to visit your GP, who may be able to refer you to a dermatologist for expert advice and help.

Do you a rosacea sufferer? What products or tricks have you found really help reduce the symptoms? Leave your comments below...