Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that goes hand in hand with sensitivity.
As the skin becomes more stressed and prone to flare-ups, the capillaries weaken, becoming more visible, resulting in permanent redness.
It’s a skin condition that gets progressive over time and gets worse if left untreated. This is why it is so important to be diagnosed and to regain control of your skin.
It is a chronic skin condition that continues to confound scientists, and whilst we don’t know the cause or cure for rosacea, there are treatments and advice to help control the symptoms.
So if you have rosacea or hypersensitive skin and you’re not sure why to join us as we help you navigate your way through the difficulties of living with rosacea and reactive skin.
What Causes Rosacea?
What is Rosacea?
Pronounced ‘ro-zay-sha, this chronic skin condition resembles a facial rash accompanied by fine veins, pustules, swelling, irritated eyes, dry patches, and – in severe cases – there may also be a thickening of the skin. It starts in adulthood and is a common cause of ‘adult acne.
It is essentially a vascular disorder that causes blood vessels to enlarge, increasing blood to the skin. Something in the bloodstream triggers the blood vessels to swell, creating continual flushing and inflammation episodes, especially around the cheeks and nose.
What can rosacea feel like?
You may often feel a flare-up before you can see it: your skin may start to burn. It may also feel tight, dry, and itchy.
It may feel like a heat rash or sunburn with a low-grade throb or uncomfortable feeling, and you may have a burning gritty sensation in your eyes.
What does rosacea look like?
As we explained above, it’s typically characterized by facial redness; it can look like a cross between deep blushing, deep sunburn, or a rash. Your skin can take on a mottled, purple appearance when it flares up.
It is most common on the cheeks, and in some rare cases, it can present on the back and chest. Sufferers often have a butterfly effect across their cheeks, where the skin under the eyes is in stark contrast to the redness on their face.
On calm days, your skin still may have persistent redness due to the broken capillaries (veins) scattered across the face.
It can look like acne to a layperson, with pus-filled breakouts across the face.
Signs you may have rosacea:
- flaky skin
- large pores
- pus-filled spots
- facial swelling
- pink, itchy eyes
- broken capillaries
- thickening of facial skin
- congestion and even deformity of the nose area, which can lead to rhinophyma
- small distended capillaries accompanied by a red rash, which often forms pimples that contain pus and cysts
What are the causes of rosacea?
Rosacea is believed to be more common in those who are fair and have pink-toned skin that flushes easily.
Although there is a school of thought that it runs in families, there doesn’t seem to be a genetic link from our experience.
There are theories that it’s caused by bacteria on the skin or in the gut, hormones, or by microscopic mites, but these are just theories. In the medical field, they have yet to identify the real cause of rosacea; however, the following related factors are said to contribute:
- disorder of the facial blood vessels
- an internal bacterium, helicobacter pylori bacteria
- the presence of a mite, known as Demodex folliculorum
- an over-proliferation of yeast in the skin, which can lead to inflammation
- a genetically mediated reduction in the ability to reduce inflammation, triggered by UV
This article does a great job of looking at what causes rosacea in more depth.
In this article, we looked in depth at the causes of rosacea
Are there different types of rosacea?
To truly understand the anatomy of rosacea, it is important to know the four main groups it falls into, referred to as phenotypes:
In dermatology, this is referred to as dry rosacea; this condition gives the skin a grainy texture that feels almost dry to the touch.
Characteristically it shows diffused redness across the nose and cheeks.
This condition is often referred to as acne rosacea. Inflamed papules and pustules may appear on your skin with associated redness and inflammation, which you may often find cracks due to dehydration.
Acne rosacea’s causes are largely unknown, but it is partly due to an impaired barrier.
This is a severe type of rosacea; if you have it, your eyelids and eyes will be irritated. Symptoms include eye redness, swollen eyelids, small lumpy cysts, and sometimes sty’s.
This condition is interestingly more common in men. It’s a sub-type of rosacea that thickens the tissues; it can cause the nose to swell and grow in the nose cartilage.
In our skincare specialist opinion, the four different types of rosacea can be broken down into two basic complexion types for helping you understand how to create the best skincare routine to keep your complexion under control:
- Sensitive and
You need to know which of these two complexion types you fit best:
- The sensitive skin type of rosacea is referred to as an erythematotelangiectatic skin type. It’s also known as subtype 1 rosacea.
- The second is the more tolerant skin type of rosacea; it is the papulopustular type. It is sometimes referred to as subtype 2 rosacea.
There can be an overlap between the two rosacea complexion types, but ideally, you should try and decide which of these your complexion most closely resembles.
The different features between the two rosacea skin types:
Skin changes of erythematotelangiectatic classed as type 1 rosacea
- your skin is fine textured and rough
- there are visible fine broken capillaries
- red small pimples are often apparent
- your skin often flushes and blushes, and it can often sting
- your skin is sensitive and easily irritated by normal to harsh products, environmental pollutants, the sun, etc.
These changes can be dramatic or really quite subtle
The skin changes of papulopustular classed as type 2 rosacea
- large pores may often be present
- broken capillaries may be visible
- your skin is often not sensitive
- flushing may or may not sting
- pimples are present, often large and inflamed
- your skin may be sebaceous, oily, red, thick, and even swollen
Type 2 is the more classic type of rosacea; because skin sensitivity differs in these two rosacea skin types, it is important to decide if you have type 1 or 2 rosacea, especially when considering your skincare routine.
Is there a cure for rosacea?
Sadly, there is currently no treatment, and for every school of thought as to the causes of rosacea, there is a ‘cure’ to go along with it.
The only proven way to really help your rosacea is to identify and eliminate the triggers and then put your skin into a form of remission.
Skincare tips for treating your rosacea?
- Carry out a patch test. Remember, it is important to find your triggers.
- Read the ingredient list. Become your own label detective and look through ingredients over time; you will find things that you know your skin will react to; that way, you will be able to decide what you have to be more careful with. Information is power, so arm yourself accordingly.
- Be gentle with your skin; avoid manual cleaning brushes.
- Be careful with manual exfoliants that can cause tiny micro-tears in your skin.
- Avoid water on your face completely if you’re having a flare-up. Avoid hot water on your face – the temperature most of us prefer to wash our body is far too hot for our facial skin.
- Common ingredient triggers are fragrance, alcohol, menthol, tea tree, and witch hazel – try to avoid astringents where possible.
- Many of our clients incorrectly assume they have or are actually misdiagnosed with acne. This can have terrible consequences, as products designed for acne are too harsh for rosacea skin types.
- A humidifier on your bedside table may also help your skin.
- Sadly many rosacea creams contain Benzyl peroxide, a known irritant that should be avoided, as it may exacerbate your symptoms.
What products are the best for rosacea?
Soothing skincare products are the best for rosacea. You’ll want to use ingredients that calm your inflammation because rosacea is an inflammatory skin problem — not a type of acne.
- Choose soothing and strengthening formulas and natural antihistamine ingredients, like those found in SOS soothing complex.
- Consider strengthening your barrier function; fortify barrier repair, and Bio lipid complex is an excellent choice that will help rebuild your skin whilst also calming and soothing inflammation.
It’s worth noting that cellular turnover is every 4 to 6 weeks, and skincare can take between 8-12 weeks to have a meaningful impact, so please be patient.
Diet is also important when dealing with all rosacea, so be sure to include essential fatty acids – such as Omega 3, 6 & 9 as part of your diet, treating your skin from the inside out.
What triggers a flare-up of rosacea?
Those prone to rosacea are particularly susceptible to several lifestyle triggers:
- spicy foods
- dairy products
- some medications
- high blood pressure
- alcohol can be a trigger for people with the condition
As you can see, it is not easy to establish what causes rosacea because it is such a complex condition; this article looks at the products used in the treatment of rosacea,
Let’s start with the facts. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition. We are often asked how to keep rosacea under control, and our – sometimes unpopular – response is ‘through a great deal of trial and error.
We find many of our clients focus on getting rid of rosacea quickly and then plan to return to their ‘normal life, which causes a lot of issues. They spend a lot of time thinking about how their skin used to be and how they didn’t appreciate it at the time, so getting their skin back to that point is their ultimate goal.
The truth is, there is no silver-bullet-cure, and our clients are often upset when we tell them this. Yet getting rosacea under control and finding the triggers such as – diet, temperature, alcohol, skincare, stress – the list is endless, can take years, and changing every aspect of one’s lifestyle is not easy.
Don’t be misled if someone is trying to sell you a skincare product or a routine that will ‘cure’ your rosacea because there is no such thing. Instead, opt for topical skincare that is natural and gentle, as described above, which will help repair your acid mantle and barrier function and strengthen your skin.
We wish we could give you a cure-all – one skincare routine to copy, or one supplement, or one item of food to cut out, and would heal you, But it’s not that simple. Apologies, but we would rather be transparent here.
However, with persistence and through constantly monitoring your skin, we believe that you can get your rosacea under control. It’s just going to take a lot of work; it’s about identifying the triggers and eliminating them.
Most importantly, have faith in yourself, be patient, and give yourself time. You will soon know what your skin can and can’t handle; our advice, as always – listen to what it’s telling you.