The journey to loving your skin can be a long one. Along the way, there are approximately three billion bumps in the road. One of the most common? Rosacea, hands down.

If your face looks like you might be blushing and you get tiny bumps similar to acne, chances are you have this common skin condition. But what exactly is it, and how is it treated?

Read on to learn everything you need to know about rosacea, including what it is, why it happens, and how to treat it. Let’s go!


What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that affects more than 16 million people in the United States. The cause, unfortunately, is still unknown, and there is no cure. It’s okay though. Due to decades of research, experts have found ways to treat the condition.

There are four major types of rosacea, and each comes with its own set of symptoms. Most people have just one type, but it’s possible to have multiple. Rosacea’s trademark symptom includes tiny, red, pus-filled bumps on the skin that are present during flare-ups. In most cases, rosacea affects only the skin on your cheeks, forehead, and nose. 

Similar to many other skin conditions (like psoriasis, for example), flare-ups often occur in cycles. This means that you’ll experience symptoms for weeks or months at a time, the symptoms will go away, and then they come back.It’s life. You got it.


Types of Rosacea

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the four main types of rosacea include:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: Symptoms include flushing, skin discoloration, and visible blood vessels. 

  • Papulopustular rosacea: Symptoms include swelling, flushing, and breakouts that resemble acne.

  • Phymatous rosacea: Symptoms include thick, bumpy skin.

  • Ocular rosacea: Symptoms include eye irritation and redness, as well as swollen eyelids. 

In addition to these four types of rosacea, a rare condition called steroid rosacea can occur following long-term use of corticosteroids, specifically when used to treat vitiligo and dermatitis. 


What Are The Symptoms?

Everyone is different and unique in their own way, so the signs and symptoms can vary considerably from person to person. 

Rosacea is more common in those with lighter skin tones. However, the truth is that symptoms are just easier to notice in these skin tones, and very few studies have actually looked into the prevalence of rosacea in those with darker skin. 

The following symptoms may drop a hint that you haverosacea:

  • Skin thickening: If you have rosacea, chances are your skin might get thicker from excess tissue. This usually affects the bridge of the nose and can cause rhinophyma, which affects men much more than it does the ladies

  • Persistent skin discoloration: Okay, so this may be a bit confusing because it’s often confused for blush or even a sunburn that doesn’t go away. But persistent skin discoloration is one of the tell-tale signs of rosacea. It happens when hundreds of small blood vessels near the surface of the skin expand. 

  • Skin bumps and pimples: Tiny, red, acne-like bumps may develop. In most cases, they’re filled with pus and can be tender to the touch. 

  • Flushing: This happens when your face temporarily darkens, and it may spread from your face down to your neck and chest, and your skin may feel unpleasantly hot. 

  • Visible blood vessels: Also called telangiectasia or, more commonly, spider veins. This usually affects the cheeks, bridge of the nose, and other parts of the central face. 

  • Eye irritation: Some people may have irritated, watery, or bloodshot eyes following a rosacea flare-up. Your eyelids can become uncomfortable, swollen, and red, and styes are common. Rosacea affects the eyes in around 50 percent of people with the condition, and in very rare cases, vision can become blurred. 

You may also experience some of these other secondary symptoms of rosacea:

  • Facial swelling, due to excess proteins and fluid leaking out of the blood vessels

  • Rough or dry facial skin

  • Stinging or burning sensations in the skin

Do you have gorgeous dark skin and have no idea to tell if you have rosacea? We can help. 

The following symptoms may be useful indicators of rosacea in those with darker skin:

  • Dry, swollen skin

  • A warm feeling most of the time

  • Persistent questionable acne-like breakouts

  • Patches of darker skin or brown discoloration to the skin

  • Swollen or thicker skin on the nose, cheeks, chin, or forehead

  • A stinging or burning sensation when applying skincare products


What Are the Causes?

To this day, experts are still puzzled by rosacea and don’t entirely understand what causes it. However, many believe that the following factors may be to blame:

  • A skin mite called Demodex folliculorumThese unwelcome guests live on the skin and usually cause no problems. The issue? People with rosacea tend to have more of these micro mites than others, causing experts to raise an eyebrow as to if these mites cause the rosacea or if the rosacea itself causes the increase in mites. Hmmm. 

  • Family history: Many individuals with rosacea have a close relative with the condition. This means that there just might be an inherited or genetic component. 

  • Abnormalities in the blood vessels: Skin experts suggest spider veins and facial flushing are due to abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face. However, they’re unsure as to what exactly causes the inflammation in the blood vessels in the first place. See, professions have questions, just like you.

Bacteria called Helicobacter pyloriThese bacteria in the gut stimulate the production of bradykinin -- a small polypeptide that causes your blood vessels to dilate. Some experts suggest that this interesting bacteria may play a part in the development of rosacea. 


What Are The Triggers?

Everyone is different, but consuming the following food and drinks just might cause or elevate your symptoms:

  • Caffeine

  • Dairy products

  • Hot foods and beverages

  • Seasonings and spices that contain capsaicin, such as cayenne pepper, red pepper, and hot sauce

  • Alcohol -- and not just beer, but all types, including wines and hard liquors

  • Foods containing cinnamaldehyde, such as chocolate, tomatoes, and citrus fruits. 

Avoiding these triggers may help to reduce the risk of flare-ups, helping you to get better control of your skin condition. 

Other factors can aggravate rosacea simply by increasing blood flow to the surface of your skin. These include:

  • Sunlight, wind, and humidity

  • Anxiety, stress, embarrassment, and anger

  • Hot baths and saunas

  • Extremes of temperature

  • Some chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure

  • Acute medical conditions, such as a cough, fever, or a cold. 


So If There’s No Cure, How Can I Soothe My Rosacea?

Great question! As persistent as rosacea is and with there not being a cure, there are still some things you can do to minimize exposure to triggers to help prevent some of the symptoms that come with a flare-up. 

  • Always avoid rubbing or touching your face.

  • Wash your face every night with a good quality, gentle cleanser, and avoid using any products that might contain irritants or alcohol. 

  • Be sure to keep your skin well-hydrated with a gentle moisturizer at all times. 

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies

  • Never step outside without a top-notch, broad-spectrum sunscreen

  • In chilly weather, protect your face with a scarf or ski mask.

  • Avoid foods and drinks that might trigger an outbreak, like caffeine and spicy treats. 

  • Avoid using over-the-counter (OTC) steroid creams unless your doctor recommended them. 

  • Get regular exercise and good quality sleep

  • When shaving, use an electric shaver as this is less likely to trigger painful flare-ups than a normal razor.

  • Stick with dermatologist-approved skin care products designed to work with your skin (like the products found right here at Topicals!)


Bottom Line

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that can make skincare a little challenging. While there’s currently no cure, there are some things you can do to help minimize symptoms, like avoiding spicy foods and taking extra care to protect your skin from harsh conditions. 

Did you know that people with chronic skin conditions like rosacea are 2-6 times more likely to experience depression and anxiety? Why? Because we’re all taught from a young age to aim for perfection when life -- and skin -- is fluid and messy. 

Misinformation causes alienation, and Topicals is on a mission to set the world straight with incredible products that are scientifically backed and dermatologist approved


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