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Saturday 30 August 2014

Acne Rosacea: Battling the blush

Nina Byrnes

Published 18/06/2013 | 05:00

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'Sex And The City' promoted an unrealistic view of female friendship

LAST week I wrote about acne, a condition that is most common in teenagers, but a small percentage do go on to have problems with pimples into adulthood.

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Although typical acne can occur in adults, the more common cause of pimples in the adult population is actually a separate skin condition called Acne Rosacea. This is most common in those aged 30 to 60 and is thought to affect 13pc of the Irish adult population.

Those who are fair-skinned, have light hair and eyes, a family history of rosacea, and flush or blush easily are most at risk.

Actress Cynthia Nixon, of 'Sex in the City' fame, is very typical of this kind of complexion and has spoken openly about having rosacea.

Rosacea is thought to be progressive and currently there is no cure. It is three times more common in women than in men but tends to be more severe in men when it occurs.

Typically it starts out with facial redness and flushing and blushing. This is especially noticeable when exercising.

Rosacea progresses from flushing easily to the appearance of small broken blood vessels on the skin, mainly around the nose and cheeks, and increased skin sensitivity.

Finally, small red bumps and pimples appear across the forehead, chin, cheeks and nose. In severe progressive cases, there may be swelling, thickening and redness of the nose, called rhinophyma

Up to 50pc of those with rosacea may also have eye symptoms such as itching, dryness, scaling and redness.

The exact cause of rosacea is unknown. It does tend to run in families, but environmental factors are also thought to play a role.

Most recently research is looking into the Demodex mite. This mite lives on skin but research suggests that those who have rosacea may be more sensitive to the presence of the mite.

Research into this mite and its link to rosacea is ongoing here in Dublin.

Although the cause is unknown, it is clear that extreme temperatures, hot or spicy food or beverages, alcohol (especially red wine), strenuous exercise, hot showers, baths and saunas, sun exposure, stress and steroids may make symptoms worse.

Treatment of rosacea focuses on controlling symptoms and helping reduce pimples, redness and broken blood vessels.

A good skin care routine is essential. Gentle cleansers and moisturisers should be used, and products that are perfumed, abrasive or contain alcohol or other skin irritants should be avoided.

Any product used should carry the label noncomedogenic or allergy tested. There are a number of companies that carry a range of products specifically aimed at those who suffer from rosacea and these may be especially helpful.

Cosmetics should also be suited to sensitive skin. Using green-based primers or creams and yellow-based foundations can help counteract redness. Mineral-based products often contain less skin irritants and may be more suited to sensitive skin.

Good sunscreen is essential in the care of rosacea. Products containing zinc or titanium dioxide may be less irritating than other sunscreen types.

Products that are applied to the skin are usually prescribed first. The next step in prescription treatment is taking a low-dose antibiotic daily. These can be quite effective as they help treat skin bacteria and reduce inflammation.

In more recent times, Intense Pulsed Light Laser therapy (IPL) is being used. This can be very effective in reducing facial redness and broken superficial blood vessels.

If you are considering laser therapy for rosacea, it is essential to make sure the practitioner is properly trained as the industry is quite poorly regulated in Ireland.

While it is true that rosacea is incurable, millions of people around the word live with this condition. The key to managing rosacea is to avoid potential triggers and maintain a regimen of appropriate skin care and regular treatment.

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