April has been designated Rosacea Awareness Month for good reason. The common but poorly understood skin condition affects more than 16 million Americans, yet most of them don’t know it. That doesn’t keep them from suffering from the condition, especially the emotional pain of a chronically red and/or sometimes broken out face.
In a recent survey of 1,675 rosacea patients conducted by the National Rosacea Society, 90% said that the condition’s effect on their appearance has lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem. Eighty-eight percent reported suffering embarrassment, not to mention a whole range of other negative feelings, including, frustration, anxiety, helplessness, depression, anger, and isolation. In fact, 52 percent of the respondents reported that they had avoided face-to-face contact because of the disorder.
Although the cause of rosacea is unknown, a vast array of lifestyle and environmental factors can trigger flare-ups, including sun exposure, hot or cold weather, wind, alcohol, and spicy foods.
“There are different versions of rosacea so each treatment is tailored to that patient’s needs,” said New York City dermatologist Lori Brightman. “But for all rosacea sufferers, you want to avoid triggers such as sun, alcohol ,extreme hot or cold weather, stress, spicy foods, fragrance or menthol, and hot beverages.”
In addition to trigger control, medical treatments range from topical creams and ointments to in-office light or laser treatments, depending on the severity of the condition. The different types of rosacea encompass subtype 1 (moderate to severe redness on the face), subtype 2 (pumps or pimples on the face), subtype 3 (thickening of the skin), and subtype 4 (watery or irritated eyes).
“Obviously, the redness is from ‘leaky, abnormal’ blood vessels so the best treatment would be to get rid of those faulty vessels,” said New York dermatologist Cheryl Karcher. She recommends treatment with Intense Pulsed Light or a KTP or Cutera Excel V Laser. “We also use BOTOX to decrease flushing by relaxing the muscles that dilate the vessels in both the face and chest,” she added.
For topical, temporary control of redness, many doctors recommend the newly popular prescription Mirvaso Gel from Galderma. “The new topical Mirvaso Gel is amazing for redness. Use it in the morning and it will keep redness away for twelve hours,” said New York City dermatologist Lisa Airan.
Oral and or topical antibiotics can be prescribed for the anti-inflammatory benefits—not their anti-bacterial action. In addition, topical sulfur based, azeleic acid, or antifungal-based medicines can help control the redness and pustules. “For some with severe cases of flushing/burning, oral cardiovascular medicine can help reduce the blood vessels from dilating,” Dr. Brightman said.
Many physician-dispensed skin care or cosmeceutical lines feature products specifically formulated to target rosacea. “Rosaliac AR Intense by La Roche-Posay is a light serum that is great for patients with oily-normal skin and wears well under makeup,” said Maryland dermatologist Valerie Callender, who is also president of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. For dry/sensitive skin, she recommends CalmPlex by SkinMedica, an emollient cream that can be used at night.
The ZO Medical® rosacea protocol involves products to control oiliness and breakouts. Cebatrol™ Oil Control Pads feature 2% salicylic acid and anti-inflammatory agents. Beverly Hills dermatologist Zein Obagi also recommends using ZO Medical’s Glycogent™ for rosacea prone skin, which is an exfoliation accelerator engineered to reduce inflammation.
Another popular choice is PCA Skin Anti-Redness Serum which contains aldavine, capparenols, and bisabolol to reduce inflammation, redness, and hypersensitivity. It also works wonder for relieving sunburn. Clinical results show a 50 percent reduction in redness over an eight-week period.
Exuviance by NeoStrata has just launched a new serum as well. Exuviance AntiRedness Calming Serum contains Canadian willow herb, tripeptide, and brown and red algae extracts to help calm redness-prone skin. Follow with Exuviance Ultra Restorative Crème, which relies on gentle polyhdroxy acids to soothe dry and easily irritated skin.
Even cleansing rosacea-prone skin must be handled with a lot of TLC. The gentle CLn Skin Care Facial Cleanser is formulated with glycerin and skin conditioners to wipe away dirt while soothing and helping skin retain moisture.
For covering up, mineral makeup, such as the Jane Iredale brand, treats red and inflamed skin gently and with titanium dioxide for UV protection. Omaha dermatologist Joel Schlessinger also recommends Phytomer CC Crème Skin Perfecting Cream, a blend of skin care and makeup that offers coverage plus broad-spectrum sun protection.
Although it can’t be cured, rosacea can be controlled. If you are dealing with mild redness, try over-the-counter treatments that contain green tea, licorice/licorice root extract, chamomile, feverfew, and mushroom extract for relief. And remember to stay out of the sun to minimize future UV exposure which also causes flare ups.