Rosacea is one of those surprising skin conditions in that it affects way more people than you’d think - roughly 415 million people, that’s like everybody in the US and Germany combined.
The patches of red skin caused by rosacea can be soul-destroying, it can crush confidence and even make us want to cancel plans when breakouts happen. But don’t worry, help is at hand to get this condition under control.
Here’s the Poko detailed guide on what rosacea is; its different types, symptoms, and treatment. Let’s dig in.
Rosacea - what exactly is it?
Rosacea can be pretty easy to spot, even if you’ve never had it, but what causes it? It’s a chronic inflammatory skin condition that’s much more common than you’d think. It shows up as visible red patches and blood vessels, usually around the nose, cheeks and forehead.
Like other skin conditions it can flare up and breakouts are made up of small, red pus-filled bumps. Breakouts are really hard to predict, they can come in cycles or can be triggered by environmental factors lasting up to months at a time.
Rosacea is more likely to affect middle-aged women with light skin than anyone else, but don’t panic, there are plenty of treatments out there to help. And the good news is that a majority reported that medical treatment had significantly improved their emotional and social well-being.
The National Rosacea Society (NRS) ran a survey and found that rosacea affects more than just the skin with 90 percent of rosacea patients saying that the condition had a knock-on effect on their mental health. The red patches lowered their self-esteem and self-confidence, with over half of the people surveyed with severe rosacea saying they even skipped work because of it.
How do I know if I have rosacea?
As rosacea is such a visible condition it can be easier to spot than others. Here are some telltale signs of rosacea.
The main things to look out for are a redding of the skin (almost like you’re blushing) across your cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. It can come and go, so watch out for that too. If your skincare routine starts to sting your skin all of a sudden, then that might be a sign that rosacea is starting to develop.
That’s the main symptoms covered, but there are other things that you should watch out for too. Your eyes might swell and you can develop crusty, irritated eyelids. You might also form dry, irritated skin with yellowish patches. Some red bumps that kinda look like acne, but with pus, can form and if you’ve had rosacea for a very long time the skin on your nose can get quite thick.
If you think that you might have or are starting to develop rosacea then, like with any suspected ailment, go see a doctor. Early diagnosis just makes everything easier, they’ll be able to tell you exactly what you need to do or even refer you to a dermatologist if they think that’s the right thing to do.
What types of rosacea are there?
Close your eyes and imagine rosacea. You’re thinking of a flushed, red face maybe with some visible blood vessels? You’re not wrong, but there’s more than just one type, actually there are four types of rosacea.
They’re all different with their own set of symptoms and unfortunately, you can have more than one type at the same time with overlapping symptoms.
1 - Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR)
This type of Rosacea is much more common in women in their 30s and above. ETR is categorised by:
- Prolonged flushing and redness in the centre of the face
- Visibly broken blood vessels
- Swollen and sensitive skin
- Stinging and burning skin
- Rough, dry, and scaly skin
These symptoms are caused by hyperaemia, which just means that there’s an increased level of blood flow through the capillaries near the surface of the skin. Now it might not be how you’d ideally want your skin to look, but thankfully this type of rosacea is rarely painful.
2 - Acne rosacea
Given its name, it’s safe to assume that this is the type of rosacea that looks like acne breakouts. It’s more likely to affect middle-aged women and can cause pus-filled bumps on the skin.
If you think you’ve got acne rosacea then you should look out for:
- Red, sensitive skin and acne-like breakouts
- Visibly broken blood vessels
- Raised patches of skin
- Oily skin
The most likely culprit for this type of rosacea is Demodex mites. These live near hair follicles and sebaceous glands which has to lead to some scientists believing that they actually cause inflammation in the skin.
3 - Rhinophyma
This is a pretty rare form of rosacea and ends up with the thickening of the skin on the nose. The sebaceous gland is to blame for this. The ones on the nose get enlarged and fill up with lymph fluid.
This type of rosacea is most commonly found in men over 50 and is characterised by:
- Thick, bumpy skin on the nose
- Bumpy skin texture
- Large pores and visibly broken blood vessels
4 - Ocular rosacea
Ocular usually refers to things to do with the eyes, and you guessed it, ocular rosacea affects the eyes. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most uncomfortable forms of rosacea. It’s rare for this type to occur on its own, it usually develops alongside another type.
Look out for:
- Bloodshot and watery eyes
- Gritty, itchy, dry eyes
- Burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
- Redness in the whites of the eyes
- Inflammation around the eyelashes and even cysts on the eyes
- Diminished vision and sensitivity to light
- Broken blood vessels on eyelids
Is rosacea itchy?
Rosacea can be itchy, but it’s not always an itchy condition. Think of the itchiness as a side effect of rosacea, rather than being directly caused by it. The itch is more likely caused by folliculitis, dry skin and skincare products.
Folliculitis is the inflammation of hair follicles - ingrown hairs are to blame for this one. Men run into this issue more than women, think of razor bumps but more severe. Try different types of razors and find ones that suit you.
Dry skin can be caused by so many different things, but the results are usually the same. Check out our other article on dry skin and find a way to combat this annoying condition.
Even though you’re putting effort into your skincare routine, your skincare products might actually be causing your itchiness. Harsh ingredients like alcohol and menthol can irritate your skin and cause rosacea to get itchy.
Am I at risk of getting rosacea?
Rosacea can affect anyone, we’ve briefly mentioned the types of people who are more likely to get certain types of rosacea earlier in this article, but let’s sit down and take a good look at who is more at risk.
Women. Sorry ladies, we’re just more likely to have rosacea more often than men, except when it comes to rhinophyma.
People with lighter skin, particularly in northern Europe and North America. And if you’re over 30 and under 50 then you’re in the most susceptible age bracket.
Your family history also plays a part. If your parents have had rosacea, then you’re more likely to get it too. Even having Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry can make you more susceptible to it.
So, if you’re a woman with light skin, in your thirties and from Europe with Celtic ancestry, then you’re most at risk of rosacea. But it’s not a scary thing. Rosacea is totally treatable, we’ll dig into that later on.
What causes rosacea?
So we know what it looks like and who is likely to get it, but what causes it? Well actually, we don’t know for sure.
Some top scientists believe it’s caused by a combination of a few things like environmental issues, the person’s immune system and their heritage. One thing the experts agree on though is that rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene.
We mentioned Demodex mites earlier in this article. We all have them on our skin, it’s just that people with rosacea have much more of them. It’s unclear if the mites cause rosacea or vice versa, but they are common in people with rosacea.
Dermatologists believe that spider veins and facial flushing happen because of abnormalities in the blood vessels in the face.
Complex interactions between our bodies bacteria can cause rosacea. Helicobacter pylori can cause bradykinin production, which might sound complex, but all we need to know is that experts believe this is a cause of rosacea.
Our parents might be to blame. Rosacea is one of those skin conditions that may be genetic, giving us a higher disposition to the condition.
What triggers rosacea flare-ups?
We don’t know the whole picture when it comes to the causes of rosacea, but we’re in a much better position when it comes to the causes of flare-ups. Some of the most common ones are; spicy foods, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, foods containing cinnamaldehyde, like cinnamon, chocolate, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.
On top of that, some environmental issues can ignite rosacea flare-ups by increasing the blood flow to the skin surface. Watch out for; extreme temperatures and wind, strong emotions like anger and stress, hot baths and sauna, corticosteroids and high blood pressure vessels, fever and colds and even cosmetic products.
Can you pop rosacea bumps?
The simple answer is no. Many have tried, but be warned, pop them at your own risk, they’re not like regular spots.
Trying to pop these sensitive papules can even cause scarring, meaning that your rosacea which is a temporary condition may end up leaving permanent markers and redness.
So please don’t try to pop them. I think we need to say this again. Please don’t try and pop your rosacea bumps. Unfortunately, the best results take time. Over time a good skincare routine is the best way to get rid of your rosacea bumps.
How to cure rosacea?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news. There is no cure that will get rid of your rosacea for life. But not all hope is lost, we can control the symptoms and get the condition under control.
Get a grip on your rosacea, seek advice as soon as possible, and go see a doctor. They’ll likely recommend that you start on a course of antibiotics, potentially prescribe a gel or cream and occasionally they’ll issue an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment.
Best way to treat rosacea
The best way is pretty straightforward, avoid whatever triggers your rosacea. DO you notice a breakout after eating lots of spicy food? Then try going for something a little less hot next time around. You can also wear a sun cream with SPF in it, avoid direct sunlight, use gentle skincare products, avoid stress and cut down on your caffeine and alcohol intake.
CBD for rosacea
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is literally everywhere these days, from drinks to food and even skincare as people learn about its amazing effects. But can it help with rosacea?
Your doctor will most likely prescribe a steroid to treat your rosacea, but these do come with some side effects, most notably for skincare enthusiasts, it can actually thin your skin and make you look older in the long run. That’s created a buzz around CBD skincare products because they’re all-natural - so totally opposite to prescription drugs.
One of the greatest things about CBD is that it’s an anti-inflammatory, this can help soothe the redness and bumps associated with rosacea. And there are even some scientific facts to back up CBD’s antimicrobial and antipruritic properties.
These might be new for some of you reading, so let’s see what they actually do for us.
When we produce too much sebum that’s when acne can happen. Something that’s antimicrobial/anti-acne can help regulate this and normalise skin cell growth.
Having rosacea can lead to our skin becoming itchy, which, you guessed it, can make our skin even worse. CBD is antipruritic, so it can help stop itchiness at the root of the problem, and it’s been backed up by several studies.
Our bodies naturally inflame when they try to start healing themselves after something bad happens. But we don’t always control this brilliantly and sometimes we have too much information.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (this is in charge of balancing various functions of the body) and helps mitigate inflammation and reduce pain.
We’re big believers in the power of CBD, so much so we started Poko. We’ve combined that passion with another, organic skincare, to make the best products possible.
How to cope with rosacea?
Rosacea can really do a number on our confidence and mental health, which is totally understandable, it’s a chronic condition after all and usually presents itself in really visible places.
There are some great resources online and even in-person support groups to help you deal with the mental side effects of rosacea. By tackling the issue with others, you’ll feel much better.
What have we learnt about rosacea?
Rosacea is a very visible, inflammatory skin condition that affects millions of people around the world. It causes breakouts of facial redness, skin thickening and issues with our eyes. There’s no cure for it at the minute, but you can take medications prescribed by your doctor to treat the symptoms.
You can also take steps to avoid factors that trigger and worsen your symptoms. Rosacea affects everyone differently and it is, therefore, like with most other skin conditions, best to talk to your doctor and come up with your individual treatment plan.