“I was 41 when I was diagnosed with rosacea. I thought that my days of acne were behind me. I was in the process of dealing with wrinkles and certainly didn't think I would have to deal with acne issues. The breakouts made me feel very embarrassed and self-conscious. I was sure everyone was staring at me!”
While up to 85% of young adults are affected by acne globally(1), by the time we reach our late 20s, most of us have managed to bid a joyous farewell to zit creams and lotions. Hooray!
By middle age (45-65), our beauty routine is less about covering spots and more about smoothing, plumping and tightening. Fine lines and wrinkles aren’t welcomed by many, but they sure beat the pain and embarrassment of acne breakouts and blackheads.
Until one day when you least expect it, the pimples start to return…not on your neck or your back, but smack bang in the middle of your face.
How dare you…
Rosacea, the Unwanted Surprise for the ‘Middle Age’ Years
Many people are unaware they have rosacea until they are diagnosed by a GP, in fact a study conducted by the National Rosacea Society revealed that 95% of patients knew nothing about the condition before they were diagnosed.
“For me it started with redness and slight itching on the cheeks, chin, nose and forehead,” says Cathy, who had her first bout of rosacea at around 60. “After that pimples broke out on my cheeks. They were impossible to cover with make up and seemed to flare up when I ate certain foods. It wasn’t until I went to the doctor that I discovered I had rosacea.”
According to The Australian College of Dermatologists, rosacea is a common, chronic skin disorder affecting the central face. It shows up as either acne-like bumps, reddish patches on the skin or broken capillaries and is more likely to affect women between the ages of 30 to 50.
While the exact cause of rosacea is not known, it is believed that genetics, environmental, vascular and inflammatory factors could be involved.
Triggers for Rosacea
There are also many triggers that can make rosacea worse by dilating blood vessels and increasing the blood flow to the skin.
“Summer heat, hot flushes, curry and spicy hot food and red wine are all things that set my rosacea off.”
Cathy, diagnosed with rosacea at 60
“The main triggers for me are stress, any petroleum based skin products and foods high in histamines like red wine. Skin products that are too harsh (like ones for acne) also make it worse.”
Carolyn, diagnosed with rosacea at 41
The Australian College of Dermatologists lists the following as potential rosacea triggers:
- Hot food or beverages
- Spicy foods
- Temperature extremes
- Stress, anger or embarrassment
- Strenuous exercise
- Hot baths or saunas
- Oral and topical corticosteroids
- Drugs that dilate blood vessels such as blood pressure medications
- Inappropriate use of skin care products such as facial creams and oils
How to Treat Rosacea
Unfortunately rosacea can’t be cured, but there are many treatments that can help to get your rosacea under control, or even eliminate the visible signs.
The first step is to visit a GP or dermatologist, as it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis in order to ensure that you follow the right treatment path.
Your GP may suggest lifestyle changes, topical creams or a course of oral steroids, or refer you to a skin specialist or dermatologist who may carry out procedural therapies such as vascular laser.
Just as different triggers affect different people, some treatments will work for one person and not for others. It may take months or years to get your condition under control through trial and error.
“When I was diagnosed I decided to re-think my skincare. I was also given a prescription for antibiotics, which help if I have a flare up, but I don't like using these too often. I have also gone back to exercising to work up a sweat and have improved my diet by increasing Omega-3s and vegetables. I limit my red wine drinking to special occasions only and when I have it, I take an antihistamine to help counteract the effects.”
Carolyn, diagnosed at 41
“After seeing my GP, he prescribed me some topical creams but none of them seemed to work. I then went to see a dermatologist, who prescribed me low dose antibiotics. They did help but I don’t like to use them too often. I’ve been very careful about what I eat and drink and how much time I spend in the sun and thankfully I haven’t had a problem for a few months.”
Cathy, diagnosed at 60
Changing your sunscreen, makeup and diet can also be of help when managing rosacea.
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(1) Global skin disease study 2010