April is the month of awareness for some pretty interesting things: Fresh Celery Month, Soft Pretzel Month and even National Humor Month! But it’s also an awareness month for something much more serious: the skin condition known as rosacea. Maybe you’ve never heard of rosacea before, or maybe you’ve heard the term but have no idea what it is, but this skin condition is more common than you might realize. In fact, it affects about one in 20 Americans, or about 14 million people, mostly over the age of 40.
Rosacea is defined as a skin disease that causes redness and flushing of the skin, along with red pimples or pustules and visible spiderlike veins called telangiectasias. During particularly bad rosacea flareups, the nose can become red, swollen and bulbous. A notable example of this is former President Bill Clinton, who, according to the National Rosacea Society, is said to suffer from the skin disease.
While the cause of rosacea is unknown, thankfully there are ways to treat some of the symptoms. Generally, rosacea is treated by oral antibiotics, which help reduce much of the inflammation and the pustules the disease causes. The most common antibiotic used for this purpose is tetracycline. Unfortunately, there is not much this or any other treatment can do to reduce the redness of rosacea, but many patients are able to at least minimize its appearance with the help of cosmetics.
Some patients also find success treating rosacea with topical retinoids such as isotretinoin, which is known to cause birth defects and must be used with caution. For inflammation that will not subside on its own, there are also laser treatments as well as surgical options to remove excess tissue.
While the cause of rosacea isn’t known, there are ways to help prevent flareups. Many patients say their flareups are caused by stress. Obviously, we can’t eliminate all stress from our daily lives, but developing a reliable technique for stress reduction can make a big impact toward both reducing stress and reducing rosacea flareups. Things like yoga, meditation, exercise and even prescription antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can help keep your stress levels as low as possible.
Another way to help keep flareups from coming back is to take excellent care of your skin. Beyond just using retinoids and washing your face every day, be sure to use gentle soaps and moisturizers such as the ZO Skin Health line, and a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 even when it’s cloudy. A major trigger for rosacea is sun exposure, along with exposure to extreme heat and cold.
You should also be careful to limit your consumption of hot beverages and alcohol, as these are known to increase flushing in the face, too.
If you believe you may have rosacea and would like to see if there are any laser or surgical options to correct some of the damage caused by this condition, or if you are interested in learning more about what the ZO Skin Health line can do to help keep your skin healthy, please contact Dr. Bruce Chau’s office at 888-966-9471.