In a world where we are bombarded with images of beautiful people, presenting us with impossibly high standards that we are supposed to live up to, it can be easy to become incredibly disheartened and self-conscious, especially when it comes to your skin. This is even truer for those who suffer from all different types of rosacea when social media and selfie-culture leave you few places to hide.
On top of this, rosacea is still a very misunderstood condition. This makes it all the more important to recognise, understand and treat your symptoms as soon as possible, which can include:
◆Persistent facial redness
◆Visible blood vessels
◆Papules and pustules
◆Sensitive skin; burning, stinging, itching and pain
◆Dry, rough skin
◆Redness in the eyes
◆Raised red patches on your skin
These varying symptoms are not always recognised for what they are, for most people don’t know much about the condition. It is commonly thought that rosacea literally means having a red nose and cheeks. The majority of people know nothing of the other possible symptoms. For example, papules and pustules can be misdiagnosed as acne, leading the sufferer to search for remedies in all the wrong places. While acne and rosacea can have some common symptoms, causes and triggers, you’re only going to get the best results from using products specially designed to treat rosacea, and acne products are unlikely to make any real difference.
There are 4 different types of rosacea:
Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea. This the most common form. In some patients, it may progress to Type II, Papulopustular rosacea but it may only manifest as a vascular response. Flushing may be spontaneous or may be precipitated by a trigger factor. The flushing, unlike physiological flushing, lasts more than 10 minutes and sometimes can last hours or days. It may cause a burning sensation or even pain, which may be severe. Trigger factors are very individual to the patient. In a large survey conducted in the USA, the most common trigger factor was sun exposure, but there have been sufferers who improve with a sunny holiday. There are also people who can eat spicy curry but things like spring onions will cause a flush. Another example is people who can drink beer or white wine but not red wine or spirits, as they get the flushing episode. It is good to keep a diary and identify the thing that triggers a flush, so you can then try and avoid it.
Papulopustular Rosacea. This occurs following a period of flushing or concurrent with flushing. The spots look like acne, which is why rosacea was previously called acne rosacea, but in pure rosacea, there are no comedones and the spots may be follicular or interfollicular. Spots may be of any severity and may become nodulocystic.
Phytomatous Rosacea. This generally occurs in long-standing rosacea and is more common in men but can occur in women. The increased blood flow through the skin leads to a hypertrophic growth of sebaceous glands and fibrous tissue leading to lumpy swelling of the skin. The most common form is rhinophyma, affecting the nose, which becomes lumpy and bulbous, often mistaken for the alcoholic nose. It may also occur on the cheeks, chin and forehead. The swelling is firm and persistent.
Ocular Rosacea. This can occur with even very mild rosacea and affects up to 50% of rosacea sufferers. Initially the eyes become dry and gritty, followed by chemosis and red eyes. In severe cases, this may lead to keratitis and is a recognised cause of blindness.
Rosacea can also go undiagnosed because of the various myths and beliefs that surround it. For example, it’s a common misconception that rosacea usually only occurs during menopause. Whereas in reality, late teens to the early twenties are one of the most common peak ages for developing rosacea. This means that lots of younger people are dismissing their symptoms, or assuming that they are the result of something else, instead of seeking the help that they need to control their condition.
Studies have shown that rosacea sufferers are five times more likely to also suffer from anxiety and depression than those without the condition.
So what does all this mean?
For starters, it means that rosacea is actually much more common than you may think, and may manifest in ways that you didn’t expect. It means that getting a diagnosis for your symptoms is vital for setting you on the right track, and getting the right treatment. As it stands, there is no cure for any of the different types of rosacea. But being proactive, understanding and managing your condition can work wonders for your skin.
At the ARA UK, we are here to support you by providing professional advice and referrals to clinics near you, who can help you get the best treatment and results possible. So forget the impossible standards, you deserve to feel beautiful in your own skin, rosacea or no rosacea, and that is why we are here!
This website is supported by an educational grant by SkinMed