Rosacea is a common and chronic skin condition characterized by facial flushing and redness. If left untreated, it can lead to the development of inflammatory rosacea. Initially the redness in intermittent, but as it progresses, it often becomes permanent. Vascular rosacea is an early form where blood vessels under the skin can enlarge and dilate, showing through the surface of the skin as red streaks or spider veins. The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but flare-ups can be triggered by a variety of factors including sun exposure, stress, hot weather, exercise and spicy foods. Rosacea most commonly occurs in those with fair skin and chronic sun damage may be a feature. It does occasionally develop in individuals with darker complexions. About 50% of those with rosacea suffer eye involvement, including such conditions as conjunctivitis, blepharitis, dry gritty eyes, and recurrent sties. Nose enlargement (rhinophyma) is uncommon, but mostly seen in men. Caring for the skin can often be a challenge, considering certain ingredients in many common skin care products may cause the condition to persist or get worse.
Common symptoms of vascular rosacea include:
- Intermittent flushing of the face especially the cheeks
- Redness eventually becomes permanent
- Small visible blood vessels that occur on the nose and cheeks
- Burning or stinging feeling giving rise to sensitive skin
The cause of rosacea is poorly understood. Flushing is an essential part of the condition, so experts believe that there is a vascular cause or that blood vessels are a significant factor in the cause. It does appear that sun damage is usually is present. This is most commonly seen in fair skinned sundamaged individuals
A twice daily cleansing is recommended to remove oils, makeup and impurities. It is important for people with rosacea not to wash their face with hot water, as this can cause irritation. Cleansing will also provide a cooling effect that can calm your skin and temporarily relieve sensations of burning and itching. Selecting a gentle, mild skin cleanser that does not contain irritating ingredients, such as fragrances is essential. Washing aids such as a sponge, brush or wash cloth, especially those with a rough surface, can further aggravate your skin. Let your skin dry before applying either a moisturizer or medication. Selecting a suitable moisturizer will help you to manage your condition. Look for a moisturizer with water-based ingredients. This will help keep the skin hydrated without irritating it. Immediately stop using any product if you notice sensitive reactions such as increased burning, itching, stinging and redness. Since each person with rosacea will react differently to the same product, you may have to try several formulations before you find the one that’s right for your skin.
Rosacea flare-ups are most commonly triggered by sun exposure. Here are a few precautions you should take before spending time out in the sun.
Limit sun exposure: Reducing your time in the sun is perhaps the easiest way to avoid damage to your skin caused by UV rays. When outdoors, set a time limit and seek shade when necessary. Also keep in mind that UV radiation is the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Use sunscreen: Sunscreens are an essential part of protection against the sun. Look for sunscreens that are labeled “Broad Spectrum”. They are often the most effective and offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply generously and frequently.
Cover and protect: Wrap-around sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and clothing that covers your arms and legs, can offer extra protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Limiting the factors that cause flushing is important. These include heat, alcohol, spicy foods or any other foods which may ellicit flushing. Brisk physical activitles such as exercise may also cause flushing. If possible, try to exercise in a cool environment and for short bursts. Avoid any prescription drugs that cause photosensitivity
Intense pulsed light treatments (IPL) and other laser technology, such as the pulsed dye laser can correct or reduce the appearance of of redness. Laser therapy is usually required for removal of the broken blood vessels (telangiectasias). Treatment usually consist of three to six sessions. The pulsed dye laser is used for both the broken blood vessels as well as background redness. Multiple sessions are usually required.