From warmth and flushing to sensitivity and scaling, rosacea – while incredibly common – can be challenging to navigate and care for. Often many of us don’t even realise we have it, which is only made more trying by the fact that the condition itself is so vaguely understood and difficult to diagnose in the first place. Rosacea can be uncomfortable both physically and emotionally, but rest assured there are a handful of ways to effectively manage symptoms, preventing their frequency and severity, both via professional treatments in the studio and at home.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a common skin condition characterised by redness and visible blood vessels in the face and décolletage. In its mildest embodiment, you may appear flushed and feel warmth and sensitivity in the skin. Visible capillaries, bumps or break-outs on the cheeks or nose, dryness and flaking can be symptomatic of rosacea in its more developed form. On the most acute end of the spectrum is ‘Rhinophyma’, where the skin becomes thickened and pronounced. You may experience some but not all symptoms at any given time and each person’s experience with rosacea will be very unique to them.
What causes rosacea?
Unlike sensitivity-based redness, rosacea presents as persistent inflammation, enlarged capillaries, visible blood vessels, bumps and pustules and in extreme cases, textural irregularities and swelling mainly through the centre of the face. It’s more common in fair-skinned women between 30 and 50 years old, but can appear in anyone regardless of age or gender. Symptoms vary from person to person and triggers are vast and varied, from diet to subtle variations in climate, hormonal fluctuations (menstruation, pregnancy, menopause) and stress. To date, there is no known cause, though there are some schools of thought where both hereditary and immunological factors are at play.
How Is rosacea treated?
Rosacea is best addressed through a strategic approach for managing and preventing flare-ups. Firstly, seek advice from your therapist or dermatologist to ensure that the condition is correctly diagnosed. Then, consider keeping a journal of triggers to be mindful of – these can range from hot baths, strenuous exercise and sun exposure to diet, with chilli, dairy, citrus and alcohol as potential triggers. Again, each of our experiences with rosacea will be completely unique.
One of the most effective ways to manage symptoms is through a considered home regime. Look for fragrance-free formulas and above all, keep it simple – cleanse, hydrate and exfoliate as needed. Ingredients like peptides, hyaluronic acid, anti-inflammatory vitamin Bs and zinc always seem to respond well here.
Botanicals like calendula, chamomile, aloe and green tea extract are also helpful, as is incorporating a good quality Vitamin C-based serum, slowly and steadily. Vitamin C has been shown to strengthen the complexion while shielding against free radicals – magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is a gentle and stable form. Next, don’t scrub. Instead, consider gentle exfoliating lotions containing glycolic, lactic, citric, malic or salicylic acids that will gently dissolve the topmost layer of skin and promote cell turnover.
Finally, incorporating a broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential in any skincare routine, but this particularly rings true for those with rosacea. Sun exposure can cause symptoms to flare up, so applying a teaspoon-sized amount as the final step in your regime every morning and topping up as required throughout the day is key. Always look for a formula with an SPF of at least 30 – often a physical, zinc-based formula is better tolerated by those with rosacea.
In terms of treatments, regular LED light therapy is proven to be effective – and without downtime – either in a studio or at home via a mask. LED is particularly beneficial at reducing inflammation, promoting hydration and stimulating collagen and elastin for a firmer more resilient complexion; it also keeps redness at bay. In terms of correction, IPL is a tried and true option that targets dilated blood vessels and modulates flushing long term. A course of conservative treatments in close succession is ideal, with top-ups usually carried out annually, or as required.