As a dermatologist, I frequently see patients with the condition of rosacea. In fact, according to the National Rosacea Foundation, over 16 million Americans are affected by the condition! Patients come to me complaining of flushing patches of skin across their nose, cheeks and chin that sometimes are accompanied by pimples as well.
That’s not all. Rosacea can have profound social implications. People often think that a rosacea sufferer may even be a heavy drinker as the redness can mimic the same flushed face that frequently accompanies drinking alcohol. Rosacea patients often avoid social outings, or even going to work, as they are so self-conscious. It can be a distressing and embarrassing condition.
As I tell my patients, there are several things you can do to both prevent outbreaks of rosacea and minimize its appearance when they do occur. Let me share with you what those things are.
What Is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a skin condition that occurs when blood vessels, the tiny capillaries in the face, expand for a number of reasons. The exact cause of its development is unknown, however, recent research suggests that internal toxic conditions in the bowel may play a role, i.e., from food additives, environmental toxins, digestive problems. Rosacea usually starts after the age of 30 and most commonly affects fair-skinned women, but men also are affected by it. Symptoms can include:
- Pronounced, tiny “spider web”- like capillaries on the face
- Flushed areas of the face, especially across the nose, cheeks, chin
- May be accompanied by pimples in these reddened areas
- Skin feels irritated like a sunburn
- Skin around the eyes can be affected as well causing redness and even blurry vision
- If condition goes untreated, hardened bumps, or rhinophyma, resulting in a waxy, shiny look.
Here are some things known to trigger a rosacea flare-up:
- Sun/hot weather, temperature swings, high winds
- Hot shower/bath
Treatments for Rosacea
There are several medical treatments that dermatologic medicine offers rosacea sufferers:
- Antibiotic creams to decrease the redness and fight accompanying acne.
- Oral antibiotics may need to be taken for rosacea that affects the eyelids.
- Vitamin A derivative treatments, including isotretinoin or treretinoin, are stronger medications that are also used to fight rosacea.
- Avoiding triggers – for example, if you have a flare of rosacea when out in the sun, wear a hat that blocks the sun, use sunscreen, or try and stay out of direct sun if possible.
- Laser treatments to remove tiny capillary network can reduce flushing.
Some natural treatments for rosacea include trying to rid the body of possible toxins that may be contributing to the condition with herbs. These include:
- Herbal detox regimens including rehmannia, gypsum, dandelion, gardenia, red peony root, forsythia. These help to clear toxins from the colon and blood.
- Chrysanthellum indica cream. Extracts of this herb combined in a cream application seem to help strengthen the capillaries thereby reducing flushing.
- Green Tea cream. Shown to be effective in reducing flushing. Also green tea bags applied directly to flushed skin can help soothe it and cool it down.
- Licorice. Applied topically via a cream, this herb was shown to greatly reduce flushing.
- Azelaic acid creams. Made from wheat, rye, barley, has an antimicrobial/antibacterial action. Reduces redness and pustules better than metronidazole cream.
- Rice bran oil. Taken internally and/or applied topically to the skin. An excellent anti-inflammatory that contains Vitamin E.
- Rice water. Excellent skin toner that helps decrease redness.
In addition, certain vitamins have been helpful to rosacea patients:
- B vitamins, especially B3, or niacinamide.
- Digestive (pancreatic) enzymes. Helps the body break down fats and remove them. Seems to greatly improve indigestion and rosacea.
- Apple cider vinegar helps breakdown fats/foods to aid in digestion, reduce rosacea.
- Antioxidants rose hips (high Vitamin C) and selenium.
An outbreak of rosacea can really make you self-conscious and not want to be seen in public. Since my approach is a combination of natural/medical remedies, one of the first things I recommend to my rosacea patients is to get rid of dietary toxins from fast, or packaged foods, full of additives. Do a colon cleanse and drink plenty of pure, filtered water. Get enough of Vitamins B, C, selenium and zinc and have a few cups of green tea a day. Call your dermatologist if your rosacea seems unmanageable but do try a natural approach as well to help improve your rosacea!
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Rosacea, Best Natural Treatments, http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/treatments/a/Rosacea.htm
Rosacea Symptoms, http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/rosacea-topic-overview
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