ROSACEA, WHAT IS IT?
As I said, I am not a medical doctor, so I won’t bother you with (quasi) scientific definitions and complicated medical terms. I will write about how I see/live rosacea and how it presents itself to me.
When rosacea strikes, it is not a pretty sight. Facial skin turns red, flushed, covered with tiny bumps and pimples often accompanied with swollen parts of face resembling cystic acne. Blood vessels are shown most often on the nose and around it, and this makes you look like you had that one too many drinks way too often. Basically, you look like a constantly embarrassed drunk who saw his first high school love after 20 years.
Skin gets dehydrated and impossible to maintain with regular moisturizers and ointments. Always flaky, always irritated and hypersensitive. Face is constantly red and inflamed.
Makeup and foundation is always a must, but it is very hard to apply it without skin looking patchy, messy, ugly even more than without it. Total hell to deal with.
Scientists finally defined rosacea to have autoimmune disease component. That said, I could compile my not just skin deep rosacea characteristics:
- Erythrocytes Sedimentation Rate always higher than normal (all the tests taken showed there was nothing wrong with me),
- Lower immune function (I always catch every possible cold, flu and every kindergarten hit germ thanks to my nephews J ),
- Quicker getting tired, low energy level at all despite good mood,
- Very sensitive to any hormonal change,
- Prone to rheumatic conditions and symptoms.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT?
Skin barrier. Two magic words that means everything. Rosacea with its symptoms weakens skin barrier function so skin is no longer protected from the water loss and exterior pollutants and irritants. It is bare and left to its own devices and to all the bacteria and mites (demodex brevis and demodex folliculorum) to have parties of their lives right in your skin. Not nice, right?
So strengthening and protecting skin barrier is the priority in skin care of rosacea stricken skin. There are many ways to do that and number one and the most important is to steer away from the irritants and rosacea triggers.
For every person these triggers are different. I learned throughout time that I could not cope with:
- Car/airplane/train air,
- Large quantities of alcohol (parties and socializing always took toll on my skin),
- Hot/dry weather,
- Sun exposure (cannot emphasize enough to keep away!)
- High fever,
- Indoor workout,
- Menstrual cycle (ovulation and premenstrual phase).
Food factor as rosacea trigger is not so much noted. I tried couple of years ago to live without any dairy, simple carbs and the other usual suspects. For almost a year. Nothing happened. Rosacea was the same with its all-usual symptoms. Therefore, I will go with the NO to food/rosacea correlation. BUT, I eat regularly, and it’s homemade food. No, processed food, no heavy cream and no or very little trans-fat. My regular diet is healthy and pretty much well balanced.
EDIT: I couldn’t say it was some specific food to trigger rosacea, but rather one (or many) specific ingredient or chemical compound found in perhaps food, drink or in our very environment that makes our immune system go crazy and attack skin of its own body. To find what it was exactly, imagine the break through! The immune response of this kind puts the whole body in constant red alert and actually state of war against, well, that unknown something.
To me, the most important factor that makes instant change are skin care products. Good or bad, this is the most prevalent cause of any skin breakout, or on the other hand – skin improvement.
My skin reacts dramatically when something irritating is on the ingredient list of the skincare product. It also shows instant appreciation when something good is slathered on face.
For years my skin was mistreated with “soothing” and “rosacea calming” skincare products often prescribed by my dermatologists. I didn’t understand at the time that my skin cannot deal with strong synthetic fragrances, essential oils, alcohol and such. And it seems that all the “rosacea remedies” were filled with exactly these skin enemies. Think rosemary, eucalyptus, ylang-ylang, citrus oils and other “soothing” ingredients. My skin, of course, got worse to the point that I needed prescribed oral steroids. And then I said to myself – stop this!
Game changer was the Paula’s Choice guide for rosacea and the list of the ingredients that were finally all there:
Source: Paula’s Choice official website: paulaschoice.com
Then, the things started to move and get better. I was in control of the rosacea for the first time. It was no longer stochastic plague happening on my face.
I learned to read ingredients list of skincare products. I learned how to live with rosacea.
SKIN CARE TIPS
Remember those two magic words: skin barrier. Well, my skin care now is oriented to strengthening skin barrier and keeping it strong. Hydration, moisturization and providing my skin with good skin care ingredients that I learned my skin likes very much:
- Azelaic acid,
- Rose Hip Seed oil,
- Alpha arbutin,
- Hyaluronic acid,
- Vitamin A (retinol)
- Baobab Oil
My skincare routines are sometimes simple, sometimes the whole nine yards of Asian 10 steps routines. But always have these steps:
- Cleansing (double cleanse when I wear SPF and makeup),
- Toner (hydrating and/or balancing),
- Essences, serums, ampoules,
- SPF (in the morning routines).
- Over-exfoliate (chemically or physically),
- And more never ever forget SPF – no matter the time of the year, no matter the weather. Protect your skin from UVA and UVB. Rosacea skin is already compromised; do not expose it to more harsh factors and damage.
Once my skin got rid of the known irritants, and got enough moisture and well balanced skincare, makeup is then normally applied and looks good now. No matter what kind of foundation – liquid, powder or compact. But ingredients list of the makeup products is also very important. That list of known irritants is also applicable here.
Rosacea cannot be cured, but it can be treated and kept at bay. My life now is no longer hell with plague attached to my face, rosacea is now rather a quiet roommate that I almost do not know I had.
Do not despair, if I can now have normal skin, everyone can. But remember, I am not a medical doctor and please, do not take these words over your dermatologist’s professional medical advice. Take this article rather as the hope for all of you my fellow rosaceans out there.
P.S. This article will be updated regularly as I learn something new to share with you.