what causes rosacea

Acne is the most common skin complaint, with most people experiencing it at some point in their lives. However, acne has a sister – a much lesser-known but very common skin problem: Rosacea. But what is rosacea? And how do you fix it?

Keep reading to find out…

What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a common skin problem that causes redness and visible blood vessels on your face. Some people also get small, red, pus-filled bumps with a rosacea breakout too. Rosacea tends to come and go in “flare-ups” which can last for weeks or months, then go all together for a while.

In the UK, it’s thought that rosacea affects between 0.5 to 10% of the population, however, because many people don’t know how to recognise it, many go undiagnosed. That’s why we’re going to address the questions today of what is rosacea, what causes it and how to treat it.

What Is Rosacea: Symptoms

Rosacea symptoms can start out as a small rash, a patch of bumps or areas of redness on the face. These small patches then grow, spreading to cover a larger area and becoming more intense. Rosacea tends to come and go in “flare-ups” so sometimes your skin will be healthy and clear and other times you’ll struggle to keep it under control.

Symptoms vary from person to person and can include;

  • Redness in the face, especially on your cheeks and nose
  • A flushed appearance or increased blushing when embarrassed
  • Acne-like breakouts and oily skin
  • Large, visible pores that can look red and inflamed
  • Raised patches of red skin – these are called plaques
  • Bumpy skin texture
  • Spider veins, which are tiny, visible broken blood vessels under the skin
  • Swollen, painful skin that might feel sore, burning or stinging
  • Sensitive skin that easily reacts to everything from the sun and skincare products to heat or sweat
  • Dry, rough or scaling skin that may itch
  • Enlarged or swollen, bumpy nose (more common in older men)

Whilst it can de distressing, Rosacea isn’t contagious. It affects both men and women and typically starts from the age of 30 years onwards. It can affect all people of all skin tones but is more prevalent in people with a pale or fair complexion. Women are more likely to be diagnosed whereas the condition actually affects men more severely. This might be because men are less likely to visit a doctor until symptoms become more severe.

Types of Rosacea

Many people have never heard of rosacea, but even if you have, you might not know that rosacea actually has 4 different subtypes. While each type has its own set of symptoms and triggers, a person can suffer from more than one subtype of rosacea – so if your symptoms don’t fit neatly in one box then you’re not alone!

Subtype 1: Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea

This type is the most common form of rosacea, characterised by its classic facial redness, flushing and visible blood vessels.

Subtype 2: Papulopustular Rosacea

More common among middle-aged women, this subtype is characterised by acne-like breakouts and skin sensitivity. People with this subtype of rosacea may also experience persistent redness, bumps and pustules.

Subtype 3: Phymatous Rosacea

This subtype has the usual symptoms of redness, visible blood vessels and breakouts, but it also comes with swelling, fluid retention and a thickening of the skin around the nose.

Subtype 4: Ocular Rosacea

Ocular rosacea is a subtype that mostly affects the area of skin around the eyes.

What Causes Rosacea?

The true cause is still under investigation, however, there are some things known to increase or decrease flare-ups.

Common triggers include:
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Hormonal imbalances including menopause
  • Weather – Sun, Cold, Wind, Humid conditions
  • Dehydration
  • Certain skin products, especially those containing alcohol and perfumes
  • Certain foods including alcohol, cheese, spicy foods and caffeine
  • Sauna, hot baths or showers
  • Intense exercise or generally overheating

Whilst the cause of rosacea remains unclear, it is most likely caused by systemic inflammation which appears to be triggered by an overactive immune system or by neuroimmune dysregulation. Increased numbers of mast cells have also been identified in patients suffering from rosacea which along with systemic inflammation is similar to other skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

This could explain why some people find relief from following an anti-inflammatory diet.

Another cause of Rosacea is mites that live on the skin. A microscopic skin mite called Dermodex Folliculorum. Much like our gastrointestinal tract, our skin has its own microbiome made up of billions of micro-organisms that keep our skin healthy. It is completely normal for a human to have Dermodex mites, they make up part of the skin’s microbiome. They help to keep the skin healthy by feeding on dead skin cells and form part of the skin’s feeding process.

However, in some people suffering from Rosacea, they have been found to have 15-18 times greater the number of these mites than in people without rosacea.

Contributing factors to rosacea seem to include:
  • Vascular changes and problems with capillaries or blood vessels in the skin
  • Genetics
  • Sun damage and UV exposure might increase the development of visible blood vessels
  • Side effects from certain medications such as vasodilators like blood pressure pills

How to Manage Rosacea

The current way of thinking is that rosacea cannot be “cured” and that once you have the condition you’re stuck with it for life. But despite this, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of flare-ups and even keep it entirely under control.

Change Your Diet

Diet seems to play a big part in rosacea. Start by eliminating the common rosacea trigger foods such as coffee, spicy foods, alcohol, sugar, dairy and processed foods. While it might sound like a lot, most of these foods are not really good for anyone so cutting them out is a great idea.

Changing to an anti-inflammatory diet can help too. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats and clean proteins. You might want to consider going organic too to reduce the toxic load on your whole body.

Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Sun damage is a known trigger for rosacea breakouts – but it doesn’t have to be hot for it to have an effect. Many people think that because the sun isn’t usually very hot in the UK that this won’t apply here – but it’s the light in the sunshine that does the damage, not the heat – so be sure to apply a rosacea-friendly sunscreen every day. Look for one with natural ingredients and that doesn’t dry out your skin or block your pores.

Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress increases inflammation in the body and can contribute to rosacea attacks. While the causes of stress can’t always be avoided – I mean, you can’t sack your boss or put an end to a pandemic – you can find healthy ways to keep your stress levels under control. Yoga, mindfulness, meditation and exercise are all great ways to destress and reduce the risk of flare-ups. Check out my recent blog on Meditation.

Use Rosacea Skincare Products

The products you put on your skin can help or harm your rosacea. Many high street skincare products are designed for the masses – and for cost-effectiveness! They’re made with cheap ingredients that aren’t very good for your skin and can contribute to rosacea breakouts.

The good news is that there are rosacea-friendly skincare products out there. Here at The Body Clinic, we love the Circadia skincare range. Not only are all their products made from high-quality ingredients with healthy skin as a top priority, but they’ve got a range of products designed to be safe for rosacea sufferers too.

Click here to check out the product range.

Rosacea Face Treatments

At The Body Clinic, we can put together a bespoke treatment plan to help manage and relieve Rosacea. Through gentle and nourishing treatments such as our Cocoa Enzyme, Oxygen and LED light therapy treatments, we can help reduce and dramatically improve your rosacea.

If you would like to find out more about our Rosacea treatments and skin care, give us a call on 01562 265001, drop us an email or speak to us next time you are in the clinic.