The ins and outs of Rosacea

A condition we get asked about often in the pharmacy is rosacea. This is a non-contagious inflammation of the face that makes the skin appear flushed and red. It commonly affects people over 30 years and unfortunately, symptoms tend to get worse with age.

What triggers rosacea?

We don’t really know what causes rosacea, but our genetics and environmental factors may exacerbate it. Try to limit:

  • Alcohol
  • Hot drinks
  • Spicy food
  • Sunlight and UV exposure
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Overheating, especially in bed at night.

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

Most commonly, rosacea will present with flushing across the nose and cheeks from enlarged capillaries under the skin. It can cause some swelling, burning feeling or dry and flaky patches. Sometimes there are dome-shaped spots but not blackheads or whiteheads.

What treatments are available?

Your doctor or dermatologist can diagnose rosacea and offer treatments for it. The treatment will depend on how severe the rosacea is but can include antibiotics, medicines to reduce flushing or anti-inflammatories. Low dose oral antibiotics (Doxycycline or Minocycline) are often given to reduce redness and inflammation and need to be taken for 6-12 weeks. If taken correctly, you can expect an improvement after 3-4 weeks. Once under control, topical medicines (Metronidazole, Azelaic acid) may be prescribed ongoing or mild cases. In severe cases, laser or surgery may be indicated.

What else can help?

  • Cleanse your skin twice daily with a gentle, soap-free cleanser.
  • Use water-based cosmetics.
  • Protect yourself from the sun with a light, oil-free sunscreen.
  • Avoid temperature extremes, especially in the shower.
  • Avoid the triggers mentioned above and quit smoking if necessary.
  • Avoid using steroid creams – after the initial benefit, they can often make the condition worse.

Advice is always available from your community pharmacy as to the best products to use and where to seek more help.



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