Rosacea - what is it?
Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that typically affects the face. It causes redness, visible blood vessels, and some people can experience pus-filled bumps. For some, it can be acne rosacea, which is very painful, as it causes large pustules.
Rosacea more commonly appears on the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead.
It’s a condition that can affect anyone but is more commonly seen in fairer skin types. It affects both men and women, although research shows that it’s more common in women.
Rosacea can be tricky to diagnose, as the symptoms and triggers differ quite significantly. And whilst it’s thought that 1 in 10 people in the UK have rosacea, I think the real figures are likely to be higher – as so many people that have this inflammatory skin condition, don’t seek professional help for it.
What causes rosacea?
The cause of rosacea is actually a little bit of a mystery! It can be a genetic condition, but as it’s an inflammatory skin condition, it’s likely to be down to inflammation and imbalance internally. This is why so many people that have rosacea, experience flare-ups – rather than have the condition in the same state, constantly. Flare-ups can last days, weeks, or much longer, depending on the root cause.
Research into rosacea has identified these potential causes:
- Abnormalities in facial blood vessels.
- A microscopic mite called Demodex folliculorum
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria – found in the gut.
- An overactive immune system.
As with all inflammatory skin conditions, there are lots of things that you can do, to help reduce the inflammation internally. And, there are also some great ways to strengthen and protect your skin from the outside in too, we will touch on those later in this blog.
Some common triggers
Whilst not much is known about the causes of rosacea, there is much more known about factors that can trigger it. Now, this in itself can be tricky, as these will differ from person to person. It is really helpful to know what your triggers are if you have rosacea, so you can avoid/manage them. Here are some common triggers:
- Sun exposure
- Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold
- Wind, especially cold
- Spicy foods
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- Lack of sleep
- Food intolerances/allergies
- Medications/medical conditions
- Intense exercise
Skin care products or cosmetics
I always recommend keeping a food/skin/lifestyle diary for 2-3 months, to start to see if there are any patterns. I’ve attached a diary that I give to my clients, which you can download HERE.
Diet & Nutrition
Nutrition and Diet, along with stress, are the two most common triggers of rosacea flare-ups.
This is why it’s important for you to know what your food triggers are. And, for some, you may see the flare-up immediately (common with spicy food and alcohol), but in other cases, it may take a few days before you see the impact on your skin.
If you have food intolerances, then they cause inflammation in your body, and this inflammation will usually show up on your skin, although it may take a few days. This is why tracking food/skin/lifestyle is so powerful, so you can look for patterns.
Whilst food intolerances are one side of it, there are foods that you can include in your diet, that are anti-inflammatory and will help your skin from within.
You can download my Guide on Inflammatory Skin Conditions via the button below.
Some tips to manage rosacea
Keeping the diary notes above will help you to identify your triggers, and start to manage those. But here are my top tips for managing rosacea.
Always wear your sunscreen! See my video for my advice on sunscreen. This is SO important if you have rosacea, as the UV rays will be causing damage to already sensitive and inflamed skin.
Keep your skincare simple: Use gentle cleansers and moisturisers designed for sensitive skin. Targeted serums to reduce information and repair & strengthen your skin can help too.
Avoid overly hot baths or showers, and vigorous exercise, as raising your body temperature could be a trigger for you.
Know your food triggers: Another shout-out for the diary tracker! Whilst many people find spicy foods and alcohol can be an issue, any other food intolerance can be a trigger too. If it’s triggering an inflammatory response in your body, it will show up on your skin!
Check in with your stress levels, and get your sleep in: Both of these can heavily contribute to what’s happening with your skin. Stress is one of the most common causes/triggers of inflammatory skin conditions and is almost always a contributing factor, with clients I am treating for rosacea. You can read my blog on managing stress in your skin, HERE.
Rosacea and sunscreen
Come on now… You didn’t expect me to write a blog on ANYTHING skin related, without shoehorning my number one piece of skincare advice, did you?! And this is so important if you have rosacea, as your skin is already compromised and therefore at greater risk of damage from UV rays.
Sunscreen shields your skin from harmful UV rays – and let’s not forget that UVA (A is for ageing) is responsible for up to 80% of premature skin ageing! Your antioxidants provide an extra layer of protection against free radicals and oxidative stress. Having a combined approach like this is the best way to ensure your skin is protected, and as strong as possible. In turn, you’ll be rewarded with more youthful and healthier-looking skin!
Check out my video, where I go into sunscreen in more detail, and talk about the different types of sunscreen you can choose.
Skin care ingredients for rosacea
These aren’t the only ingredients to look out for, but they are a good place to start – and among my favourites!
Niacinamide: (Vitamin B3) This is becoming more well-known now, and it really is a little bit of magic. It’s great for treating inflammatory skin conditions. It helps to reduce inflammation and has been proven to minimise large pores too. It’s also brilliant for maintaining your natural moisture levels in your skin and helping to strengthen your natural barrier function. It both strengthens and protects.
Green Tea Extract: Rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, green tea extract is a really effective anti-inflammatory ingredient that can soothe redness and irritation.
Hinokitiol (Beta-Thujaplicin): This is an amazing ingredient for rosacea and sensitive skin. It’s soothing, anti-irritant, awesome antioxidant and also has brightening properties. Great for redness and inflammation.
Squalane: Derived from plant sources like olives or sugar cane, it’s rich and emollient which can be really helpful for dehydrated and dry skin. It provides moisture and hydration, without clogging pores or causing irritation.
Licorice Root Extract: This plant extract has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to soothe redness and irritation while also improving skin tone.
Hyaluronic Acid: Sometimes people panic when they see the word ‘acid’. But HA is naturally present in your skin. In fact, hyaluronic acid helps to retain moisture and plump the skin, making it an excellent choice for hydration without irritation.
Vitamin C: Well, L-Ascorbic Acid, to be precise! This is the only bioavailable form of Vitamin C and it’s up there as my favourite ingredient! This little powerhouse helps neutralise free radicals, brighten the skin, and promote collagen production. It has an amazing effect on reducing lines & wrinkles, brightening your complexion, reducing pigmentation, and boosting overall skin health.
Zinc Oxide (Mirconsied): This little wonder ingredient offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays, without leaving a chalky residue on your skin. It is also far less likely to cause irritation, than chemical sunscreen. Check out AlumierMD’s Clear Shield or Sheer Hydration sunscreens.
Resveratrol: Derived from red grapes, resveratrol is a powerful polyphenol antioxidant that can protect the skin from environmental stressors and UV damage. boosts collagen production, helps to reduce inflammation, and supports healthy cell production within your skin. You’ll find this in a lot of good quality anti-ageing serums.
Treatments can be tricky when it comes to rosacea. I never start with clinical treatments, if I’m working with someone that has rosacea.
Firstly, if your rosacea is severe, or you have pustular/acne rosacea, I would recommend that you speak with your GP or a Dermatologist. If you’d like recommendations for a private GP or Dermatologist, you’ll find them on my Little Black Book page.
I always start with a 12-week programme that involves keeping a skin/lifestyle/food diary, to identify any patterns or triggers. Alongside this, my clients use targeted skincare, and some will take supplements – where necessary. Only after this, do we think about treatments. And in truth, 90% of clients I work with that have inflammatory skin conditions never need clinical treatment.
Treatments can include prescription medications, both topical and/or tablet form. This would only be prescribed by a doctor. For clinical treatments, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is the most effective treatment. This treatment helps to target broken capillaries, veins, and redness. Whilst these treatments can help, if the underlying cause isn’t addressed, the flare-ups will continue. You will also need to liaise and discuss medications/treatment with your clinician and doctor if you’re taking medications – as often prescription medications are contraindications to IPL treatment.
Supplements for rosacea
There are some great supplements that can help with rosacea. Although nothing is a miracle cure, in isolation.
Taking into account all of the advice in this blog, will help you to identify any triggers, and manage your skin through lifestyle, diet and making informed choices on skin care.
Supplements can help, and these are the ones I’d really recommend:
- Gut Biome supplement. This can be a game-changer! By balancing the balance in your gut, you can reduce inflammation within your body considerably. My top 3 products are: Symprove, Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Clear Biome, and Rejuvenated’s Immune Complex.
- Anti-inflammatory skin complex: As well as a gut biome supplement, there are some products specifically designed to reduce inflammation in your skin and help with sensitivities and redness. Both Rejuvenated’s Skin Perfecting Complex and Advanced Nutrition Programme’s Skin Accumax are specifically formulated for rosacea, and inflammatory skin conditions.
And that's a wrap!
I really hope that you found my blog on rosacea helpful. If you would like some help with your skin, then please get in touch. I know it can be confusing, with all of the different advice available out there. The truth is, that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer, as so many factors affect your skin. I always work with my clients from the inside out, and outside in – to ensure you get the best possible results.
I offer remote services, as well as clinical treatments. My aesthetics clinic is based in Alton, Hampshire. I’m on the Hampshire/Surrey border, just 15 minutes from Basingstoke and Farnham, and I’m at the end of a direct train line from London Waterloo.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
And, if you haven’t taken my Skin Quiz yet, then please do. It’s fun, takes less than 4 minutes, and you’ll get immediate access to personalised results.