Rosacea is a common chronic skin condition that leads to severe flushing, burning and redness across the central part of the face and forehead and sometimes also the neck.
Progression of the disease is waxing and waning in nature, with periods of relatively few and less bothersome symptoms interspersed between more severe episodes of aggravation known of as “flare-ups”.
These flare-ups are brought about by several triggers that may be related to a person’s environment or lifestyle and these factors need to be avoided, particularly as there is no official cure for rosacea. Trigger avoidance therefore provides a vital approach to treating this condition.
Lifestyle and environmental triggers
Examples of the lifestyle and environmental triggers include:
- sun exposure
- hot or cold weather
- emotional stress
- heavy exercise
- alcohol consumption
- spicy foods
- hot baths
- certain cosmetics
- hot drinks
- medical conditions
- some foods
Every patient has his or her unique set of triggers that may differ from those of other patients.
To help identify and avoid a patient’s individual triggers, they are asked to maintain a diary of any known trigger exposures that occur before their flare-ups. This may take some time, but usually a pattern emerges from these records that helps physicians to identify particular inducers of flare-ups.
Surveys have shown that avoidance of such triggers has previously improved symptoms by up to 90%.
Some of the lifestyle measures include:
- Avoiding sun exposure
- Avoiding spicy food, foods suspected to cause flare-ups, hot beverages and alcohol
- Avoiding heavy exercise
- Practising meditation and related techniques to ease stress
Cosmetics and skin care products need to be chosen carefully. Because rosacea patients have especially sensitive skin, they should choose skin care products that are designed to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, while avoiding products that irritate the skin.
Cleansers, moisturizers and sun blocks are important protective products and a sun protection factor of 15 or higher is recommended.
If the patient is allergic to sunscreen or develops irritation, they may use zinc- or titanium dioxide-containing blocks instead.
Cosmetics’ ingredients should not cause sensitivity or irritation, nor should they contain volatile substances, minor irritants or allergens. In addition, products should contain only low amounts of botanical agents and additives.
After washing the face, skin should be blotted rather than rubbed dry, to reduce the sensory stimulation of the skin that causes flushing.