Getting to the Root of Rosacea Symptoms
Rosacea is a chronic skin inflammation that can make you run for cover at a time when spending time outside with friends is all you want to do. Even indoors, it’s hard to ignore your red, bumpy face when you’re staring at your own reflection on every video call!
What Does Rosacea Look Like?
There are four main rosacea subtypes, and each affects a different part of the face with different tell-tale symptoms. You might find your symptoms switch from one subtype to another, or experience more than one at a time.
To further complicate matters, some subtypes look a lot like acne, although the best way to treat this skin condition is almost the opposite of conventional acne treatments.
The 4 Types of Rosacea:
Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR)
This type of rosacea shows up as redness in the center of your face. You may see broken blood vessels, experience a stinging sensation, and your skin may be swollen and sensitive.
With a look similar to a typical acne breakout, Papulopustular rosacea gives you pus-filled bumps and a bonus of red, oily skin with visible broken blood vessels. Women in their late 40’s and 50’s are the most often affected by this type.
Often wrongly associated with excessive alcohol consumption, Rhinophyma rosacea primarily affects the nose. It causes the skin on your nose to become thickened and bumpy, with visible pores and broken blood vessels. This subtype usually occurs alongside at least one other subtype and affects more men than women.
What Causes Rosacea?
The Role of Genetics in Rosacea
Women are more likely to get rosacea in general, while men might be less likely to have it, but the risk of rosacea symptoms being severe is higher.
Research has identified that those with rosacea are more likely to have an overactive immune system. The body’s immune system is designed to protect you from threats, but if it becomes overactive, your body will respond to its own tissues as if it were a foreign invader.
Inflammation is the body’s way of ‘smoking out’ the invaders with heat. But when inflammation gets out of hand internally, it may show up externally on your face.
The Microbiome & Rosacea
Good & Bad Bacteria
The number of microbes in our bodies outnumber our own cells 10 to 1. Most of the time the various “good” and “bad“ strains play well together, the good bacteria balancing out the bad, and forming symbiotic microbial ecosystems. But when things get out of balance, the bad bacteria can take over.
Demodex Skin Mites
Studies show that those with rosacea have large numbers of these mites on their skin, but they are not actually to blame. The real culprits are the bacteria they carry (bacillus oleronius).
Top 5 Rosacea Triggers and How To Avoid Them
You may find that you remain free of rosacea symptoms for long periods of time, only to have them flare up suddenly. Something is triggering the reaction – but what?
1 – Foods and Beverages
Fried and spicy foods, drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, hot soups and drinks, and foods that contain cinnamaldehyde (like cinnamon, citrus fruit, chocolate and tomatoes) are all high on the list of foods to avoid if you have rosacea.
2 – Sun and Weather Conditions
Do you get rosacea flare-ups in the summer? Basking in the sun may be relaxing, but the sun is a known rosacea trigger.
Avoid direct sunlight on your face during the hottest parts of the afternoon, and when you do venture out into the sunshine, wear a broad-brimmed hat for extra protection.
Sunscreen with a 30 SPF or higher is a great way to protect your face from strong summer rays. But did you know that the wrong sunscreen can make your rosacea worse? Opt for water-based, fragrance-free sunscreens that won’t irritate your sensitive skin.
The Environmental Working Group’s 2020 Guide to Sunscreens is a great resource to find a safe, effective sunscreen, and other facial products that contain SPF.
Heat & Extreme Weather
Heat is an important trigger, but it’s really about avoiding all extreme weather conditions. Very cold or windy weather can also aggravate rosacea. Reduce the impact by wearing light-colored, breathable clothing in hot summer months. Don’t forget a cardigan for those sudden temperature drops when you enter arctic a/c conditions!
3 – Exercise
If you’ve ever had a rosacea flare-up after an intense cardio workout, you’re not alone. If you’re a runner, it’s important to keep your runs to the early mornings or evenings when the weather is cooler. Or change up your routine and try slower, more gentle exercise such as walking or yoga. Skip the Hot Yoga if you have rosacea as heat is an aggravating factor.
4 – Stress
How was your day going the last time you had a flare-up? How about the last five times? Stress is the most common rosacea trigger and you may find that flare-ups are closely linked to those tough days.
If you know a stressful period is coming up (like a looming project deadline), take extra self-care measures to side-step them and avoid flare-ups. Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night, and avoiding screens an hour before bed. Stay hydrated and make time daily for activities that bring you joy.
5 – Environmental Toxins & Chemicals
Rosacea is all about inflammation, both inside and out. Exposure to toxins and environmental chemicals increases inflammatory markers in the body, potentially leading to chronic inflammation concerns, such as rosacea.
Major sources of environmental toxins include pesticides in produce, preservatives and other chemicals in personal care products (like makeup, nail polish and perfume) as well as those in household cleaning products.
Read the Ingredients
Look at the ingredient lists – how many of your products contain chemical names so long that even a spelling bee champ would be stumped? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s extensive list of Consumer Guides to find chemical-free home and body care products that are good for you, and the environment.
Keeping Track of Your Rosacea Triggers Can Help Manage Symptoms
Rosacea and Self-Esteem
What Can You Do To Reduce Rosacea Symptoms?
2 Supplements Can Help Reduce Rosacea Symptoms
What nutrients can you take to reduce your rosacea flare-ups?
1 – Zinc
Research shows that taking a zinc supplement regularly can reduce rosacea symptoms by up to 75%, likely by providing immune system support.
2 – Probiotics
Probiotic supplementation also shows great promise, by rebalancing our microbiome so that potentially damaging bacterial strains are kept in check by the good microbes.
Facial Skincare For Rosacea
Proper facial care is vital. Studies indicate that washing your face morning and evening with an alcohol-free cleanser and using an oil-free moisturizer will improve your facial appearance. However you need to monitor your skin’s needs and respond accordingly. If your skin is dry and irritated, washing it less often can help. If your skin is oily, less moisturizing may be useful.
Are you ready to get to the root of your rosacea? We can help identify your triggers with Food Sensitivity Testing, check the status of your immune system, test your toxin levels and see what’s going on with your microbiome.
Get in touch and let’s get to work on creating a personalized treatment plan with key nutrients that will have you putting your best face forward.
Resources & References
Akdogan N, Alli N, Incel Uysal P, Candar T. Role of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms in patients with rosacea: a case-control study. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2019;44(4):397-403. doi:10.1111/ced.13769
Hoffmann J, Gendrisch F, Schempp CM, Wölfle U. New Herbal Biomedicines for the Topical Treatment of Dermatological Disorders. Biomedicines. 2020;8(2):27. Published 2020 Feb 8. doi:10.3390/biomedicines8020027
Kallis PJ, Price A, Dosal JR, Nichols AJ, Keri J. A Biologically Based Approach to Acne and Rosacea. J Drugs Dermatol. 2018;17(6):611-617.
Park BW, Ha JM, Cho EB, et al. A Study on Vitamin D and Cathelicidin Status in Patients with Rosacea: Serum Level and Tissue Expression. Ann Dermatol. 2018;30(2):136-142. doi:10.5021/ad.2018.30.2.136
Rainer BM, Thompson KG. Characterization and analysis of the skin microbiota in rosacea: a case-control study. Am J Clin Dermatol 2020;21(1):139–147. doi:10.1007/s40257-019-00471-5
Szántó M, Dózsa A, Antal D, Szabó K, Kemény L, Bai P. Targeting the gut-skin axis-Probiotics as new tools for skin disorder management?. Exp Dermatol. 2019;28(11):1210-1218. doi:10.1111/exd.14016
Two AM, Wu W, et al. “Rosacea: part II. Topical and systemic therapies in the treatment of rosacea.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015;72(5):761-70.
Vaughn AR, Pourang A, Clark AK, Burney W, Sivamani RK. Dietary supplementation with turmeric polyherbal formulation decreases facial redness: a randomized double-blind controlled pilot study. J Integr Med. 2019;17(1):20-23. doi:10.1016/j.joim.2018.11.004
Yuan X, Huang X, Wang B, et al. Relationship between rosacea and dietary factors: A multicenter retrospective case-control survey. J Dermatol 2019;46(3):219–225. doi:10.1111/1346-8138.14771
Zip C. “The role of skin care in optimizing treatment of acne and rosacea.” Skin Therapy Lett. 2017;22(3):5-7.
National Rosacea Society: https://www.rosacea.org/
American Academy of Dermatology Association: https://www.aad.org/