There are several skin conditions that affect women during their lifetime. These include acne during adolescence, striae or stretch marks due to drastic weight gain or loss, sun damage, skin cancer and rosacea. All of these conditions require appropriate diagnosis, management and treatment.
The increasing life expectancy of the general population means there is also an ever increasing risk of people being affected by sun damage, skin cancer and rosacea, especially among middle aged and elderly women.
Rosacea is more common among women than men, particularly among those who are experiencing the menopause.
Complications of rosacea
Rosacea commonly leads to the following complications:
- Redness and flushing of the face
- Red spots that may be persistent
- Prominent, thread-like skin capillaries (telengiectasia)
- Blepharitis (inflammation of the eye lids)
Triggers of rosacea symptoms
Studies into the causes of rosacea have not yet yielded any specific causative factor, although spicy food, emotional stress, hot beverages, and sun, heat and wind exposure are among some of the factors thought to trigger symptoms of the condition.
Menopause as a factor
Most patients with rosacea report flushing episodes and this has led to the hypothesis that hyper-reactivity or over activity of the skin blood vessels could play a role in causing rosacea. Studies also show that rosacea lesions express an excess of vascular endothelial growth factor, CD31, and the lymphatic endothelium marker D2-40.
Flushing and the sensation of warmth in the face are also common features of menopausal hot flashes and the menopause has been found to trigger or worsen rosacea in some sufferers. Lifestyle measures Some of the ways in which the symptoms may be relieved in menopausal women include:
- Avoiding sun exposure and applying sunscreen
- Exercising in cool temperatures to reduce the risk of flushing
- Avoiding spicy foods, hot beverages, alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Careful selection of skin care products and cosmetics that are suitable for sensitive skin. Products containing alcohol or harsh chemicals that may irritate the skin should be avoided.
- Avoiding hot baths and showers
- Performing regular moderate exercise
- Eating a healthy balanced diet
- Quitting any smoking or substance abuse
- Performing meditation and other relaxation techniques to combat stress
Although there is no known cure for rosacea, the condition can be managed and controlled with medication. The use of skin creams and lotions containing antibiotics such as metronidazole has been reported to be beneficial, as has the use of oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, clarithromycin, and doxycycline. Some women may also benefit from intermittent pulse laser therapy.