April is Rosacea Awareness Month – something that has gone largely unnoticed what with the coronavirus crisis.
But while, fingers crossed, we will hopefully get a vaccine or cure for Covid-19, rosacea isn’t going anywhere, sadly.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve been to the GP with a skin problem, unless it’s been something like an allergic reaction, I’ve felt like apologising for such a vain concern. But it’s not only about how we look, skin problems can be painful and leave us feeling uncomfortable so please, never dismiss it as frivolous.
Rosacea, especially, can have a huge impact on sufferers’ emotional and social lives. Many people say it hits their self-esteem and confidence and that their quality of life is impaired greatly.
Added to this, while it usually first strikes in your 30s and 40s, people in their 50s can suffer too – prime perimenopause and menopause years for women, when our wellbeing can often be impacted by hormones, too.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that usually occurs on the face. It causes redness on the nose, chin, cheeks and forehead and can affect all skin types. It is unrelated to hygiene.
It is quite a common condition, especially among midlife women.
What are the symptoms?
There are four main symptoms:
- persistent flushing of the face, most commonly around the nose and cheeks;
- thread veins around these areas (laser treatment is the best way to get rid of these);
- red spots that can be filled with pus – this is not acne, however, although it may be mistaken as such, and
- skin thickening of the skin, particularly around the nose (this is rare and usually seen in me).
Rosacea can be mistaken for eczema or dermatitis, mainly when you only suffer from inflammation and redness and don’t have spots.
What causes rosacea?
The million-dollar question! No one knows exactly what causes rosacea. However, some things are known to trigger it, such as alcohol, spicy foods, hot drinks and changes in temperature (going from a hot room to the cold outside, for example).
Stress is also a big trigger – only 10 per cent of sufferers say it has no effect on their rosacea.
How does menopause affect it?
It’s that little bugger oestrogen again. As well as giving you hot flushes, the fall in oestrogen can make your skin red (not everyone – I never flushed). It can also give you breakouts or change the moisture levels of your skin, so you may become drier or oilier.
Add in the anxiety that menopause can bring affecting your stress levels and you can see why midlife women are so often hit.
How can I treat rosacea?
- Rosacea is a medical condition, so go and see your doctor who will prescribe a cream or tablets to help – and they will help; they may take time, but they can help. Laser treatments can also help.
- When it comes to what to put on your skin, use gentle products, especially non-fragranced moisturisers, so you don’t inflame your skin any more. Don’t forget the sunscreen, too.
- Keep a diary of what you eat in case something in particular triggers an attack – and, of course, eat a balanced, healthy diet.
- Avoid hot baths and showers
- If you want to conceal your rosacea, remember that green moisturiser that was so popular in the 1990s? Go and find some (it’s still available, but with trendy names and packaging now.) The colour will tone down the redness under your foundation.
- Do not, however, go full on RuPaul with your make-up. It can be tempting to slap on as much slap as possible to hide behind (yes, I’ve done it too). But the truth is, it can make things worse by either irritating or drying out your skin. (And no, toothpaste is not good for getting rid of spots.)
- Invest in your mental wellbeing so you keep your stress levels as low as possible. Meditation, exercise and being in the fresh air (not so easy these days, I know) can all boost your mental health. Try to exercise in a cool room, too, so you don’t overheat.
Do you suffer from rosacea? What helps you? Share your tips and advice in the comments below