Many women come and see me in my clinic with ‘breakouts’, thinking that these spots and pimples are acne. However, on examination and taking a thorough history, it often turns out that they don’t have acne, but rosacea. This is a chronic (i.e. persistent) skin condition that can look very similar to acne, but might need a different form of treatment.
Rosacea is fairly common, especially in women aged 30 to 60 years, even more so in ‘celtic’ skin types with fair skin. Affected patients also often suffer with tiny broken blood vessels / thread veins (‘teleangiectasias’) on their cheeks and nose and a tendency for facial flushing, for example after consuming spicy food, red wine or coffee. Occasionally rosacea can also come along with thickening of the skin on the nose (‘rhinophyma’) and eye problems such as dry or gritty eyes.
Sun exposure, topical steroids and the wrong type of skincare typically aggravate rosacea. Despite the fact that rosacea skin often feels sensitive, dry and might even flake, suffers must avoid rich, greasy skincare, as these would cause rosacea spots and pimples. General advice for all rosacea patients includes protecting your skin from the sun and avoiding all oil-based skincare products (and never ever use a topical steroid, although it might feel soothing initially!). Well-suited sun protection products include Sunsense Daily Face, which is a very light facial sun protection moisturizer with an SPF50 and Skinceuticals Sheer Mineral Defense, a purely mineral sun protection moisturizer with SPF50. And if you notice that a certain type of food makes your skin worse, try and cut down on those foods.
However, most patients will need prescription creams (or even tablets), which work naturally much, much stronger than any over the counter products. Be aware though that one symptom will not respond to medicated creams or tablets – the tiny broken blood vessels. These can however be treated very successfully with a certain type of laser or in many cases with diathermy. However it is important to know that before you embark on any laser treatment of thread veins on your face, the inflamed aspect of your rosacea (i.e. spots and pimples) needs to be treated first and should be completely quiescent at the time of the laser treatment. So if anybody offers you laser treatment for thread veins, while you are still suffering with breakouts, you know what to think of that so-called ‘expert’!
If you are suffering with rosacea, you might rightly be thinking ‘I am in an age now, where I am starting to see lines and wrinkles, so I really don’t want to still suffer with spots! ‘ – so make sure you see a Dermatologist to help clear your skin. What I just can’t understand is how people with breakouts, whether they are down to rosacea or acne, can go to a Beauty Salon or Laser/IPL clinic on the High Street, to have this looked at or even treated. Guys – there is an underlying skin disease, which needs proper medical treatment! You wouldn’t want a fault in the Airbus repaired by the stewardess, right?
One last piece of advice – although you should strictly avoid High Street Salons and High Street Facials if you are suffering with a tendency for rosacea, there is a special type of Medical Rosacea Facial, which Dermatologists can offer, that will be of great additional benefit to any form of treatment. It will ‘deep-cleanse’ your pores and prevent breakouts, while soothing and hydrating sensitive rosacea skin at the same time.