WE’RE all familiar with stories of blushing and red cheeks due to the menopause, but it isn’t always because of ‘The Change’ that we experience an increase in redness. A skin presentation called rosacea is another potential reason for this.
Rosacea is inflammation of the skin, and a condition that causes redness of the face; particularly on the nose, cheeks, skin, forehead and eyelids.
Little raised red bumps, or small broken blood vessels can also present, and in more severe cases little pustules can form. Sometimes the tissue of the skin can start to swell in certain areas, or sting when washing.
It’s quite a common skin condition that usually affects fair skin, but can affect any skin type. Women are more likely to experience it, but men who do get rosacea tend to get it more severely.
Typical age profile for rosacea is 40-60 years old. There isn’t a clear genetic link, but there does seem to be some trends of it running in families. It’s not contagious, however.
Rosacea is something that can improve and/or worsen depending on the triggers the skin is exposed to, and at the moment, with the weather warmer, it can be quite prone to flaring up, and some sufferers get very self-conscious about it. Ironically, very low temperatures can also trigger it.
Alcohol is another known culprit that can act by increasing the flushed effect, and stress, exercise or spicy food can also be issues for some sufferers.
In recent times, mask wearing has been a real trigger for some, and warrants more strict skincare routines and treatment of flares.
In order to minimise the rosacea symptoms, you should protect the skin with good SPF with a factor 50 to serve as a barrier against the UV light.
It’s important to be very mindful of the types of skincare you use in general, as anything overtly harsh, perfumed or oily can exacerbate the symptoms of the condition. You shouldn’t scrub the skin when washing, rather rub gently and pat it dry.
If you’re very conscious of the appearance of the rosacea, concealer or primer with a green tint acts as a neutraliser for the redness and can be helpful to dampen down the severity of it.
It’s possible to get over-the-counter products that contain azelaic acid which can be applied for some improvement, or you could also consider the IPL laser route— this can be excellent for treating the appearance of those broken capillary veins.
If it’s something that is causing ongoing issues, you can speak to your GP who will take a background history from you, and may prescribe something for you. The treatment choice will depend on the severity of the rosacea, as well as any other medications you might be on. Sometimes a cream containing metronidazole or ivermectin may be advised.
Alternatively, a course of oral antibiotics can work really well to reset the symptoms and calm the inflammation — be careful that some of these require added protection from UV, so your SPF is even more vital, as is avoiding direct sunlight. In very severe cases, you may be referred to a dermatologist who can help.
A great first step in getting on top of your rosacea is to keep a diary of symptoms — when is it worse, what potentially triggered that deterioration? This will inform what actions you need to take to get it under control. Rest assured that many more suffer similarly, and there are options out there to manage it.
Dr Michelle O’Driscoll is a pharmacist, researcher and founder of InTuition, a health and wellness education company.
Her research lies in the area of mental health education, and through InTuition she delivers health promotion workshops to corporate and academic organisations nationally.