Those suffering from rosacea often feel as though there is little they can do to combat their symptoms. Typical approaches may only provide minimal relief for the unsightly red bumps and pustules that can accompany a flare up.
Anyone can experience this condition though it usually affects fair-skinned women of middle age. People developing rosacea frequently experienced lots of acne in the past. While it affects over 16 million Americans, very few people actually know much about this poorly understood disorder before being diagnosed.
For skin to function properly, the outer layer must be in great shape, providing a barrier function to prevent cracking, provide UV protection, and kill microbes. Often, this outer layer is damaged and can lead to a variety of skin diseases like rosacea. When the skin barrier is impaired bacteria, irritants, and pollutants can penetrate into the deeper layers of skin, causing additional problems.
What Does Rosacea Look Like?
People with rosacea often suffer self-esteem issues due to the symptoms they experience. Symptoms usually start with a tendency to redden or blush more readily, and progress to facial redness, mostly in the central part of the face. The tiny blood vessels on the nose and cheeks often swell and become visible. Many people will also develop acne-like swollen red bumps that resemble pimples. They often contain pus. Sometimes skin may feel tender and hot. A good number of people also experience dry eyes, irritation, or swollen, red eyelids. These symptoms may show up before the other visible symptoms. Some men may experience rhinophyma, or a swollen, bulbous nose. This is a result of thickening of the skin of the nose due to enlargement of the sebaceous (oil) glands. Women may see this, too, though it’s not as common. Over time, many people will experience a permanent redness in the center of their face.
While it generally may wax and wane, sadly rosacea will typically worsen over time. WebMD states that many rosacea sufferers have reported that, without treatment, their condition had advanced from early to middle stage within a year.
Understanding Rosacea at Its Core
Rosacea is considered to be an incurable auto-inflammatory condition. The exact cause is unknown, but it could result from a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. Some believe that it is a reaction to a bacteria that is present with an overpopulation of the demodex mite.
Whatever the cause, rosacea develops through a process, simplified as follows:
- Mast cells (a type of white blood cell) release histamine and stimulate the production of arachidonic acid (ADA).
- ADA stimulates the production of a host of molecules which play a role in making the blood vessels dilate and become leaky.
- Vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) causes the redness we see.
- Increased vascular permeability (the ability of molecules to enter and leave the blood vessels) and vasodilation causes white blood cells (WBCs) to leak out of the vessels and enter the inflamed tissue to start the healing process. A type of WBC called a neutrophil is especially seen in high numbers.
- Fluid buildup, or edema, follows, making the area appear puffy and swollen. The increased metabolic activity associated with the WBC activity also generates heat, contributing to local warmth.
- The buildup of neutrophils cause the papules and pustules (p&ps) associated with rosacea, and are responsible for promoting additional vascular growth. What you see are the visible WBCs and the impact of their excessive numbers.
- Over time, the process builds on itself: more blood vessel growth allows more inflammation, creating more blood vessel growth. . . . .
While there is no cure, often times avoiding triggering foods and beverages can help to keep flare-ups at bay. The consensus seems to be that spicy foods, hot foods, caffeine, and alcohol are all common triggers. So is sun exposure, so protecting your skin from the sun may go far towards avoiding the inflammatory response.
There are a few topical products and other therapies that have provided some people relief. Talking with your dermatologist is an important step in managing your case. They may suggest Brimonidine to tighten blood vessels, azelaic acid to clear up bumps and swelling, or antibiotics like metronidazole or doxycycline to kill bacteria and decrease redness. Some acne drugs may help to clear the skin bumps. Other therapies aimed at reducing the demodex mite population are sometimes worth considering.
Doctors have also found that making proper diet choices or using alternative treatments can often help to reduce or control your rosacea symptoms. Nicholas Perricone MD, dermatologist and author of The Wrinkle Cure, especially advises to eat foods high in healthy fats like cold-water fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Jeannette Graf, MD, dermatologist and author of Stop Aging, Start Living, notes that soothing botanicals and essential oils can help rosacea sufferers.
Cutting Edge Science for Rosacea
A new and unique fatty acid derived from conifer seeds and developed with cutting edge science, sciadonic acid DELTA-5™ has an acute effect on reducing inflammation of the skin. It has a unique mechanism of action, being incorporated into lipid pools, where it displaces pro-inflammatory ARA, effectively ruining the inflammation cascade.
To more effectively improve the skin’s barrier function, DELTA-5 contains linoleic acid that penetrates the skin and provides lipids to build and improve the skin’s ceramide structure. These benefits are in addition to decreasing the molecules that cause inflammation. DELTA-5 is quite potent in improving and maintaining the skin’s proper barrier function by both reducing inflammation and strengthening the skin’s structure to keep skin moist and smooth.