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Rosacea is a chronic facial skin condition that affects mostly fair-skinned women between the ages of 30-60 years old. Symptoms can include areas of redness on the face, small, spidery-like collections of blood vessels on the nose or cheeks.
4481145735_480a1a0440.jpgImage source: Flickr

Additionally small bumpy areas occur which may be red or filled with pus and a tendency for an area across the cheeks and nose that can flush or redden frequently. Rosacea can affect men—and when it does, they tend to have more severe conditions. The eyes can be affected as well in about 50% of patients— their eyes are often watery and reddened. The causes of rosacea are not known—but it is known that there are certain “triggers” that can be avoided.  These “triggers” can include:

  • Sun exposure. If you are affected by this, you can use a hypoallergenic sunscreen to protect the affected areas. Some people can be affected by heat—avoiding particularly hot areas can be very helpful.
  • Stress can be a trigger in some people.  Using deep breathing, meditation or other relaxation techniques, tai chi or yoga to reduce stress can be effective.
  • Spicy foods, alcohol, and hot beverages including coffee and tea can trigger a rosacea reaction. Even non-spicy foods can sometimes cause reactions—keeping a diet diary can help you figure out your food and beverage triggers. A diet diary simply lists all the foods you have had during the day—and any reactions you may have had to those foods.  It’s important to list anything out of the usual—like a headache, stomach upset, sudden bowel movement, itching or actual rosacea flare-up.
  • There are some foods that seem to help rosacea in some people. Some of these foods are whole grains, seeds, nuts and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. The brightly colored fruits like cherries, blackberries and blueberries contain a class of substances called proanthocyanins which “tighten” or constrict the blood vessels, helping to reduce facial redness. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, tofu is used as food for its cooling qualities. Seaweed or kelp is often used for skin health. Another factor to take into consideration is if your stomach is producing enough acid to properly digest food—some patients have found their rosacea improves by taking digestive betaine -hydrochloric acid (HCl).  
  • Some skin products—even the hypoallergenic ones, can trigger a reaction—the glycerin or vegetable based soaps appear to cause the fewest problems.
There aren’t many medical treatments that have proven to be effective—rosacea can be extremely frustrating both for the patient and the physician. People affected by rosacea can feel self-conscious, lonely and alone, suffer embarrassment and shame, develop shyness and restraint in social areas and overall suffer a drop in their quality of life.

Some of the conventional treatments for rosacea are laser therapy and various medications such as topical metronidazole, azelaic acid, sulfacetamide/sulfur and antibiotics. Oral tetracyclines (an antibiotic) are also used. Artificial tears are often used for the symptoms of dry eyes.
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