April is global Rosacea Awareness Month, so in support of this important campaign this month’s column is dedicated to helping increase awareness of rosacea, and offer a basic insight into this widespread, but often misunderstood, skin condition.
So, what is rosacea? Who does it affect? What causes it and how can it be treated?
Rosacea (pronounced ro-zay-sha) is a long-term, inflammatory skin condition which usually only affects the face. It is considered to be a common condition which (according to the NHS; source: www.nhs.uk) is estimated to affect up to 1 in 10 people in the UK, with around 1 in 600 people being newly diagnosed every year.
Who gets rosacea?
Anyone of any age, including children, or ethnicity can develop rosacea. However, it most commonly affects adults between the ages of 30 and 60. It tends to affect women (particularly during menopause) more often than men, and generally occurs more frequently among people with fair skin.
Although the exact underlying cause of rosacea is not known, it is believed that the condition occurs as a result of something causing irritation to the skin. It is also thought that people may inherit a predisposition to developing the condition.
What are the symptoms?
The most recognisable symptoms associated with rosacea are skin redness and flushing, which happen as a result of the blood vessels in the skin dilating too rapidly. The skin may also be prone to sensitivity and itching or burning sensations, and these symptoms (along with the redness and flushing may be induced, or made worse by exposure to certain triggers – often referred to as a ‘flare-up’. Other symptoms include visible broken capillaries (usually around the nose and across the cheeks), small bumps and pimples and coarse skin. In rare cases rosacea can lead to thickening of the skin of the nose, giving it a swollen, lumpy appearance, this particular symptom tends to affect men more than women.
It is important to state at this point that if you suspect you may have rosacea it is vital that you consult your GP for an accurate diagnosis. As although the condition has no cure, there are numerous treatment options available which can help manage the symptoms and minimise flare-ups.
Self care for rosacea symptoms
In addition to the treatments prescribed by a GP, dermatologist or other healthcare professional there are a number of self care strategies that can be utilised to help to ease, or manage, the symptoms of rosacea.
Identifying and minimising exposure to known triggers, such as spicy food or extreme weather conditions (other frequently reported triggers include exercise, alcohol and emotional stress).
Applying sun protection on a daily basis, and avoiding sun exposure.
Maintaining a gentle skin care routine, and using luke-warm water instead of hot water when washing the skin.
Using skin care and make-up products formulated for people with rosacea or sensitive skin, and avoiding those containing ingredients such as alcohol, menthol, with hazel, peppermint and fragrance, which are all known to aggravate symptoms.
Where to go to find out more about rosacea
For more information about rosacea, or skin disease, please visit www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/Skinformation.aspx
The British Skin Foundation is the only UK charity dedicated to raising funds for skin disease and skin cancer research. This year the British Skin Foundation turns 20 years old, giving out more than £10,000,000 in grants to over 300 research projects since 1996.