Skin Deep

How to manage your rosacea

More than 16 million Americans are affected by rosacea, a common yet often misunderstood skin condition. Although not contagious, rosacea, which is characterized by red flushing of the skin, is highly visible and can be a blow to self-confidence.

If you are struggling with rosacea, here are some tips for managing your symptoms:

What Causes Rosacea?

While ongoing research has yet to determine the exact cause of rosacea, current evidence shows the condition may be linked to genetics and external factors like Demodex, a type of mite that is known to inhabit human skin, according to the National Rosacea Society. While Demodex is found on nearly all human skin and is typically harmless, larger numbers of this microscopic mite tend to occur on skin affected by rosacea. Researchers are still unsure, however, if there is a connection between Demodex and rosacea.

What makes rosacea particularly problematic for many people is the fact that its symptoms — red flushing of the skin that may be accompanied by pimple-like blisters — are triggered by various extrinsic factors. Changes in the weather, spicy foods, alcohol, hot beverages, exercise and emotional stress can all exacerbate rosacea symptoms.

Emotional Impact

Because of the visible nature of rosacea symptoms, those affected by this condition often report feelings of stigmatization and embarrassment. Results from a recent online survey published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that feelings of stigmatization are common among men and women with rosacea.

Another study published in Dermatology found a link between rosacea and anxiety and depression. Even those with mild flushing of the skin report negative psychological impacts, demonstrating the importance of a more in-depth medical evaluation to help design a treatment plan that addresses both physical and emotional symptoms.

How to Better Manage Rosacea

Although there is not currently a cure for rosacea, there are a number of treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help alleviate symptoms and reduce flare-ups. These include:

▪ Avoiding individual triggers, such as sun exposure, stress, alcohol, certain skincare ingredients and hot foods and drinks.

▪ Wearing sunscreen daily, rain or shine.

▪ Talking to your dermatologist about medications to help reduce redness.

Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.