What to know about rosacea and how to deal with it during colder months

The arrival of cold weather can result in a variety of changes to the skin – causing certain conditions to present themselves.

This is particularly the case for anyone who deals with rosacea.

People who suffer with the skin condition tend to experience flare ups, meaning they will go through periods when it’s particularly bad.

While it remains unclear what exactly causes rosacea, cold weather is thought to be a common culprit.

Here’s everything to know about the condition and the best ways to deal with it during the colder months.

What is rosacea?

In medical terms, rosacea is a long term skin condition that mainly affects the face – particularly the nose, cheeks, and forehead.

It’s characterised by small, red bumps on the skin (which look a little bit like acne). Symptoms often start with episodes of flushing but these can progress to itching and burning sensations, spots or blood vessels becoming visible.

There are four different types:

  • The first is known as erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR), and is associated with facial redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels.
  • The second is called papulopustular (or acne) rosacea – this typically affects middle-aged women.
  • Rhinophyma is type three and is a rare form associated with the thickening of a nose.
  • The final is known as ocular rosacea – where symptoms are centered around the eye.

Roscesea often affects people with fair skin but is seen across skin types in people aged 40-60 years old.

What causes rosacea?

The exact cause of the condition remains unknown. But there are a variety of triggers that are thought to make rosacea worse. These include stress, extreme temperatures, hot drinks, spicy foods, exercise, alcohol and sun exposure.

It’s thought that genetics, the immune system, and environmental factors could all play a role, but there is no definitive answer.

A whole host of interesting theories have also been suggested such as abnormalities in the blood vessels on the face as well as a reaction to microscopic mites on the skin.

Treatments and products for rosacea

Currently there’s no cure for rosacea, but there are a wide range of treatment options and products which can help control symptoms and reduce its appearance.

Treatment-wise, some oral medications – such as antibiotics – have proven to clear up more severe spots (due to their anti-inflammatory properties).

Dr. Dawn Davis, from the Mayo Clinic, says: ‘In the past, little could be done to treat the redness and pustules of rosacea. But breakthroughs have occurred over the last few years.

‘For mild to moderate rosacea, a topical treatment often is recommended. Newer medications work by constricting blood vessels or decreasing inflammation. Because the effect is temporary, these medications must be applied regularly to maintain improvements and can be expensive.’

Another way to deal with rosacea is to identify personal triggers.

Dr Susan Mayou, a consultant Dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, says keeping a diary can prove extremely helpful.

She says: ‘Monitor your rosacea episodes, noting any triggers that worsen the symptoms such as diet, exposure to weather and skincare ingredients. Monitoring the triggers and reviewing with your dermatologist will help you better understand and manage the condition.’

There are also a number of products on the market designed to reduce the appearance of rosacea.

Incorporating anti-redness products in a beauty regime is a great way to trial out different products to see if they make a difference.

The Avène Redness Relief Moisturiser and the La Roche-Posay Rosaliac serum are both designed to calm redness and create a more even skin tone.

Dermalex Repair Rosacea Cream is another product which relieves symptoms such as redness, flushing, visible spider veins, tight or hard skin and dryness.

Using these items can do a whole lot of good, but it’s important not to irritate the skin.

Dr. Dawn Davis adds: ‘While it’s important to cleanse regularly, avoid products that contain alcohol or other skin irritants. Touch and cleanse your face gently — don’t scrub, and avoid exfoliants.’

Colour correcting products are great for making skin appear more even and they work on the basis that complementary colours neutralise each other (green balances red).

Erborian CC Colour Correct contains pigments that correct redness. As with other colour correcting products, on first appearance it appears green but the cream soon adapts to different skin tones. This product gets bonus points as it has added sun protection, with SPF 25.

Ways to deal with rosacea in the colder months

Just like bursts of cold air can lead to flare ups, blasts of hot air can do the same. So try to avoid sitting with your face in the direct line of heaters.

It’s also important to stay protected against the sun all year round – especially when it comes to rosacea – as sunlight is the most commonly reported trigger.

Winter winds are likely to be a problem too, so create a literal barrier between your skin and the elements by the use of a scarf. Try to ensure the troublesome spots (nose, cheeks and mouth) are covered.

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