It is very difficult to identify why someone gets rosacea in the first place. I remember when I started getting pinky cheeks that just wouldn’t go away, I trawled the internet’s every corner to find out why. In my mind every problem is solvable as long as you know what causes it. You identify the cause…take it away…and then it’s gone. Well this wasn’t the case with rosacea and as I was about to find out, it was going to be a very steep learning curve.
As I was looking for answers, the most often cited cause that medical professionals were able to identify was abnormality of blood vessels in the face, as this condition is often characterized by visible veins mainly on the cheeks. This however didn’t add up as I don’t have any veins showing up (luckily). It is thought to be hereditary, but looking at my extended family (up to uncles and cousins), nobody has this condition.
Then I went on to rosacea forums because I wanted to hear people’s opinion. Looking at the majority of those comments it started to dawn on me that my condition was most likely caused by stress. But how do you take stress away? Well if I knew the answer to that I would be a millionaire by now. It’s impossible to eradicate it entirely from your life unless you live up in the Tibetan mountains as a total recluse…So I needed to chill out and relax. But as life went on and I tried to relax as much as I could, the rosacea still prevailed. I decided at one point to go to the GP and get it checked out just in case I was mistaken and it was another kind of skin issue that looks similar. Well that visit was a disappointment as I was diagnosed with rosacea ; I was secretly hoping it was something else that can be treated easier than this. I was prescribed a topical treatment that I will talk about later, that didn’t work out.
A number of years had to go by for me to learn what were my triggers. Because it’s one thing for someone to get rosacea (depending on the individual), but it’s a completely different story as to what triggers said condition once it’s present. When I realized this, I again went researching what can trigger it, so I can avoid worsening the situation as much as possible. So my triggers, as nearly 8 years experience tells me, are the following in no particular order.
Heat: for me, it’s worse sitting in a room with dry heat, than being out in the sun. With appropriate sun protection however (which is ridiculously hard to find for someone with R), it is not too much of a problem as long as I avoid the 11 am – 3 pm “skin cancer” window. Prolonged exposure is not an issue as I never liked to look tanned so there wasn’t a need for me to compromise on that front. I needed to compromise on the room temperature though. I never liked being cold, but I turned down the radiator and put on somewhat warmer clothes. The result? Significantly less flare ups, and better sleep (I sleep best in 18-20°C max). I applied the same principle to the water I wash my face with: always lukewarm and never in the shower as the water I shower with is a lot warmer than that.
Stress: yes it’s not just my cause but a major trigger, if not the biggest. It goes hand in hand with the heat issue though. When I get upset, I feel as if the heat that my body generates goes right to my face…and it stays there for hours. This is one of the reasons why I needed to reduce the amount of stress in my life, as the effects lasted way too long. It was the hardest thing to do as there is always something that happens that upsets me at regular intervals in my life. How I dealt with this is way to long to detail here. Let’s just say it had to do with a major change in the outlook on life that I used to have.
Skincare items: this is a no brainer, really. For anyone who had the condition for long enough, you will know just how selective we all have to be when choosing products. I realize the previous sentence is somewhat erroneous, as we don’t really have a great deal of choice, now do we? It has to be mild enough to not cause more damage but effective at the same time to do the job required right? No biggie.. For some product types this is easier, like with creams and lotions, for some it’s a lot harder, like cleansers. And others like scrubs…well try to find that one if you can (I did and will be sharing that with you in a later post).
Food: I purposefully left this category last. I feel this is a very complex category to detail here, which is why I’m going to dedicate a full post to this, as I consider it to be a major factor. Most skin problems (and not just) have something (or rather everything) to do with a person’s dietary choices. I also feel there is a lack of information out there about the importance of nutrition when it comes to dealing with rosacea. The info you can find is generally to avoid eating overly hot food, and strong spices as they all generate unnecessary heat in the body. Given that rosacea is an inflammatory condition this is just half the picture.
I am going to be dissecting the topic of nutricion in my next post, so please read on:)