“Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels in your face. It may also produce small, red, pus-filled bumps. These signs and symptoms may flare up for a period of weeks to months and then diminish for a while. Rosacea can be mistaken for acne, an allergic reaction or other skin problems.
Rosacea can occur in anyone. But it most commonly affects middle-aged women who have fair skin. While there’s no cure for rosacea, treatments can control and reduce the signs and symptoms. If you experience persistent redness of your face, see your doctor for a diagnosis and proper treatment.” ~ https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rosacea/symptoms-causes/syc-20353815
Sounds so simple doesn’t it? To many it might be, but not for me. More than 16 million Americans are reported to have rosacea.
What causes rosacea? Excellent question! According to the Mayo Clinic, “The cause of rosacea is unknown, but it could be due to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors.” ~ https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rosacea/symptoms-causes/syc-20353815
Back in October, just before Halloween I noticed some irritation on my chin, tiny little bumps that oozed clear fluid and my skin had become quite sensitive, itchy and somewhat tender. The redness was embarrassing, looked like I had a red beard of inflammation. Unfortunately, I recognized it from something I had years ago on a couple of different occasions. I scheduled an appointment with my dermatologist and got my diagnosis. It was perioral dermatitis which “is a facial rash that tends to occur around the mouth. Most often it is red and slightly scaly or bumpy. Any itching or burning is mild. It may spread up around the nose, and occasionally the eyes while avoiding the skin adjacent to the lips.” ~ https://www.aocd.org/page/PerioralDermatitis
This was the third time in twenty years that I had perioral dermatitis. UGH….. Anyway, this time I went to a new dermatologist, a different clinic than the one I had previously gone to from years ago only because I had moved to a different state.
The dermatologist this time prescribed me a steroidal cream and two weeks worth of doxycycline. Sounds good, right? I would have thought so, too until when I was finished with my doxycycline I noticed that my condition wasn’t improving. It actually was getting worse. So, I went back to the clinic, but saw a different dermatologist this time. He assessed the condition, confirming it was still indeed perioral dermatitis. He looked at my record from my prior visit and told me that I shouldn’t have been prescribed a steroidal cream at all and advised me to stop using it. He then told me that I should have actually been prescribed an anti-steroidal cream instead and my prescription of doxycycline needed to be a stronger dose lasting for a month instead of the two weeks, unlike what his colleague had previously recommended for me to do. (Which has made me never want to see his colleague again. Anywho…)
I followed his advice, took the medication exactly like I was supposed to do and applied the anti-steroidal cream daily. Guess what?! My skin was starting to improve! YES, thank goodness!! Finally the tiny, itchy bumps were going away and the minor oozing had stopped.
…… BUT THEN…… I noticed that my skin was still having problems. Even though I could tell that the perorial dermatitis was going away, I was having skin issues of a different sort. On my face, not just on my chin this time, I was getting more bumps and redness. I could tell that it wasn’t from the previous condition, it was something else. There were these pustule nodules forming and they were painful and very red. It was getting to the point where people were starting to ask me, “what’s going on with your face?” Talk about the embarrassment! Here I am 42 years old and dealing with the face of a pubescent teenager, or so I felt. I was completely aggravated… mortified! I tried natural remedies like making my own facial scrub using lemon and sugar…. I also tried witch hazel… store bought masks…. OTC products… nothing worked! I was trying not to have to go back to the dermatologist. I was getting so discouraged and didn’t want to be seen publicly anywhere. All I wanted to do was hide in the darkest corner away from everyone. It’s been that embarrassing for me! Was I being a tad bit dramatic? I don’t think so because for anyone who’s dealt with these issues, then they unfortunately know exactly what I’m talking about.
So, finally after weeks of dealing with ongoing skin problems that were continually getting worse, I bit the bullet and scheduled another appointment (the third one since October) with my dermatologist. I saw the same dermatologist as I did the second time because I felt confident with him. He walked into the room and immediately started listening to all I had to say. He confirmed that the perorial dermatitis had in fact cleared up, but took a deeper look at my face. He then pointed out the flushing on my cheeks and the visible small blood vessels that are on both sides of my nose, along with my redness and bumps. That’s when he said the dreaded words….. “You have rosacea.”. I was like, “what?!” My dermatologist then continued that it was nothing to worry about and that he has rosacea as well.
He gave me a short list of some triggers that can cause rosacea flare-ups, plus he advised me on skincare tips to help prevent any worsening of this condition. He also prescribed me Soolantra, which is a cream that helps reduce rosacea bumps and blemishes. So far, so good…. it’s been three weeks since my last appointment and things are improving, slowly but surely.
Upon my research of rosacea, it is a skin condition with no cure, meaning that anyone who has it will have it for the rest of their lives. Treatment is available, the sooner the better because untreated rosacea can worsen greatly over time, causing permanent skin damage, including skin thickening of the nose making it appear bulbous and swollen. “Phymatous rosacea is more common in men than women, and although the thickened skin and irregular surface nodules may affect other areas of the face, it is most often involves the nose. Mild cases may be treated with medications, but more severe cases of rhinophyma typically require surgery.” ~ https://www.rosacea.org/blog/2017/february/tvs-the-doctors-shows-life-changing-surgery-for-rosacea
“Rosacea can cause eyelids to become red, swollen, and sties may develop. The area around the eyelid may develop a crust or scaling and, much like the nose and cheeks, blood vessels may become visible.” ~ https://www.mdlive.com/7-signs-rosacea/ Which can eventually lead to eye irritation and vision problems.
“Rosacea is more common in women than men, but in men, the symptoms can be more severe. It can also become progressively worse. Leaving it untreated can cause significant damage, not only to the skin, but to the eyes as well. That’s why it’s so important to visit a dermatologist at the earliest sign of these symptoms.” ~ https://www.mdlive.com/7-signs-rosacea/
I am extremely grateful that I went back to the dermatologist, which led to the diagnosis of my rosacea. Knowing what I know now has answered so many questions that I’ve had for a while regarding my face…. like the sensitivity to certain products… the random breakouts which I now know are flare-ups…. why even things including atmospheric conditions like humidity, hot or cold temperatures, and wind will often irritate my skin. However, I will say that I’ve been noticing the flushing on my cheeks and the visible blood vessels around my nose for a long time, but never thought much about it until my skin worsened.
This has definitely been an eye-opener for me. Learning what can trigger flare-ups is something that I am steadily reading about. What kinds of foods to eat, being wise about what kind of facial products to use to cleanse my face (I recommend Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser. “It’s formulated with a hypoallergenic fragrance that’s free of known skin allergens and irritating essential oils. It’s been clinically proven to be gentle for cleansing sensitive skin, including acne-prone skin, eczema, rosacea and atopic dermatitis.
So far the cleanser has proven to be fantastic for my skin! Not using a washcloth to wash my face has helped a great deal, too! I have read that people with rosacea have to be careful even with doing so because the cloth and facial sponges can be too aggressive on our skin. And getting facials, sitting in saunas and other things like that are not necessarily the best idea for people with this skin condition. Also, modifying my exercise routine. Wait, why that?! Because the elevation of body temperature may also bring on the possibility of a flare-up. So I make sure to drink water as I workout to help maintain a cooler body temperature. When going outdoors be sure to always use a sunscreen, especially one that’s made for people with rosacea.
Like I mentioned earlier, being mindful of certain foods that can cause flare-ups like certain spices, spicy foods, citrus, dairy… the list is actually quite lengthy. Even hot beverages such as coffee and teas can be a no-no. I’ve learned to drink my hot beverages at a much lower temperature. (This part has been difficult because I do love my hot coffee and hot herbal teas!)
Other triggers for many people are sunlight, wind, certain kinds of make-up, emotions, alcohol, certain drugs that can dilate blood vessels such as blood pressure medications.
As far as foods go that have been triggers for me that I’ve discovered so far are citrus fruits, tomatoes, chili, pizza, anything with excessive sugar or white flour.. even the cinnamon infused water that I used to drink on a daily basis I’ve had to stop because of the flare-ups. I’ve also had to stop with my vinegar dose that I would take daily as an aid to help with my arthritis. Even things like mustard, strawberries, spinach and chocolate (which I love all) can be triggers. I’ve recently discovered that mouthwash with alcohol as an ingredient even triggers my rosacea. Crazy, huh?! Finding what triggers my rosacea will be a continuing lesson as time goes on. I’ve learned that triggers can be different from one person to the next, meaning that what may cause a flare-up for someone may not necessarily cause a flare-up for someone else.
My research on the topic has been extensive so far, and let me just tell you…. WOW!! But I am learning and I will get my rosacea under control. I understand that it won’t happen overnight, unfortunately, but it will be under control. The important part is that I was diagnosed with it early, thankfully!
And the month of April is known as Rosacea Awareness Month. “The goal of Rosacea Awareness Month is to spread public education on this disease so that more people who may have rosacea seek medical help before it gets worse, and so those whose lives are affected can find greater public acceptance and understanding.” ~ rosacea.org https://www.rosacea.org/patients/rosacea-awareness-month
“Getting treatment is a must, so make sure you see your doctor. If you don’t take care of your rosacea, redness and swelling can get worse and might become permanent.” ~ webMD
Famous people with rosacea:
Bill Clinton (42nd President of the United States)
Renee Zellweger (Actress)
Diana, Princess of Whales
Prince William (Diana’s son)
W.C. Fields (Early film star from the 1920s and 1930s.)
Cameron Diaz (Actress)
Sam Smith (Musician)
Cynthia Nixon (Actress)
Rembrandt van Rijn (17th century Dutch painter)
Dita Von Teese (Model)
Lisa Faulkner (Celebrity chef)
The following are some really great sites that I’ve discovered regarding rosacea:
National Rosacea Society: https://www.rosacea.org/
American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/rosacea
healthline.com Rosacea Diet: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid for Calmer Skin: https://www.healthline.com/health/rosacea-diet
webMD: What is Rosacea: https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-rosacea-basics#1
So, wow!! A lot of info…. and so much more to learn!! If any of you have rosacea, please feel free to share. What are your triggers and how do you manage any flare-ups?
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