Acne rosacea is a common, long-term and non-contagious skin disorder. It is unrelated to acne. Symptoms vary, are often intermittent and are denoted by facial redness and flushing, frequently resembling a permanent blush or sunburn. Skin may also look bumpy with tiny red spots and small blood vessels may appear. Sometimes burning, stinging or itching can be felt.

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Where does it appear?

Developing gradually, rosacea appears most often on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead. It can be found on the neck, chest, scalp or ears too. In around 50% of sufferers the eyes are affected resulting in discomfort and redness.

Fair-skinned adults between 30 and 50 years old seem to be most prone, although children can occasionally be affected. Despite the fact that men tend to suffer from it more severely, rosacea is more prevalent in women.

What triggers it?

Whilst the cause is unknown (experts believe it could be a combination of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors), a rosacea 'flare-up' can be triggered by exposure to a number of common situations. According to The National Rosacea Society the most common triggers are:

  • Sun exposure
  • Emotional stress
  • Hot weather
  • Wind
  • Heavy exercise
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Hot baths
  • Cold weather
  • Spicy foods
  • Humidity
  • Certain skincare ingredients

How can it be treated?

There is no known cure. However, the good news is that rosacea can be easily diagnosed by either a GP or a dermatologist and then often successfully controlled through treatment. Many sufferers mistake rosacea as simply part of the skin's natural ageing process and therefore miss out on early diagnosis, which is usually key to successful treatment. The essential first step in controlling rosacea is to avoid potential stimulants (see 'What triggers it?').

Dietary supplements

Make sure your body is getting the right levels of all its main nutrients by taking good multi-vitamins and multi-mineral supplements. Natural source vitamin E can be particularly beneficial (try 400 i/u) as can a daily 500mg or 1000mg dose of the essential fatty acid GLA found in evening primrose oil.

Complementary medicine

The Chinese often refer to skin as the 'third eye', as it can be an accurate outward reflection of what's going on inside the body. Conditions like acne often respond well to complementary therapies such as herbalism and homeopathy. When choosing a medical herbalist, see a reputable, well-qualified practitioner who is registered with one of the governing organisations (see 'Want to know more?').

Skincare advice

Soothing skincare is ideal for helping to keep skin calm and under control:

  • Choose carefully and look for ranges that include good quality ingredients, especially vitamins and soothing botanicals such as aloe vera, lavender and cucumber.
  • Certain ingredients may overly stimulate rosacea including: acetone; alcohol; clove oil; menthol; peppermint oil; tea tree oil; witch hazel and 'chemical' sunscreens such as benzophenones and methoxycinnamates.
  • Always remember, if you are unsure which products will suit you, carry out a patch test first.

Since the sun is such a common trigger, in an ideal world it's best to either cover up or try to avoid it. As this is not always realistic (and a little sunshine is good for our wellbeing), the right sunscreen is essential. Here's how to choose the best one for you:

  • Select one with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Apply a sunscreen containing broad spectrum filters that will protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Consider sunscreens that provide skin with a physical barrier to reflect rather than absorb UV light. Those containing inert mineral filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are good examples.
  • Try our Suncare which are based solely on reflective mineral sunscreens and are safer for sensitive skins than those made with chemical sun filters.

Simple daily steps to gentle skincare

  1. Cleanse your face and neck twice a day using a mild detergent-free cleanser such as Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. Use a pure muslin cloth rinsed in hand-hot water to gently polish off the cream, leaving your skin soft and radiant.
  2. Let your skin dry naturally before applying any topical medication (if prescribed). You may find it helps to follow cleansing with an alcohol-free toner, such as Instant Boost Skin Tonic.
  3. Let this soak in before applying a moisturiser. You could try Skin Repair Moisturiser for dry/sensitive skin as it includes antioxidant natural source vitamin E and GLA from borage oil to help skin replace lost moisture.
  4. Some sufferers report relief when using Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask, our richly, soothing mask contains calming comfrey.

Want to know more?

These websites are useful to bookmark as they tend to offer balanced and credible viewpoints, backed with detailed peer-reviewed research on all kinds of health and beauty myths:

  • Skincare Physicians skincarephysicians.com/rosaceanet Part of the American Academy of Dermatology's site www.aad.org, rosaceanet contains a good series of FAQs as well as clear, detailed information about the condition.

  • The National Rosacea Society rosacea.org This US-based non-profit making society offers a free Patient Diary Checklist to help sufferers identify factors which may affect their individual cases, as well as an excellent booklet called ‘Coping with Rosacea' that provides tips on lifestyle management.

  • The National Institute of Medical Herbalists
    Elm House 54 Mary Arches Street
    Exeter EX4 3BA
    Tel: 0139 242 6022
    Fax: 0139 249 8963

    nimh.org.uk The UK's leading professional organisation for herbal medicine practitioners offers a free register of members. Either call or visit their website.

  • The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine
    Office 5 1 Exeter Street
    Norwich NR2 4Q
    Tel: Tel:0160 362 3994
    Fax: 0160 366 7557

    rchm.co.uk This non-profit making organisation has an excellent website. A full list of registered practitioners in the UK can also be obtained by sending a S.A.E plus a cheque for £3.00.

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