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[6 min read] Rosacea triggers and treatments

Around the ages of 30 to 50, many patients notice a persisting red flush across their nose and cheeks. It can look like acne, with redness, bumps, and slight swelling. This is most likely a skin condition called rosacea.


What is rosacea?

Rosacea may begin as a tendency to flush easily, but gradually progresses to consistent redness across the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. Small blood vessels, pimples, and red bumps can appear, and this is when many patients seek medical advice and treatment.

When left untreated, rosacea can advance into a condition called rhinophyma, in which oil glands and blood vessels on the nose become enlarged to form a thick bulbous lump, which may require surgery.

About half of patients with rosacea also experience burning, inflammation or swelling in the eyes.

People with an English or Irish background are most likely to develop rosacea, and the skin condition is most common in women aged 30 to 50.


Rosacea triggers

Some of the most common causes of rosacea are:

  • Family history
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Exercise
  • Certain foods and beverages
  • Hot weather or sun
  • Saunas or spa baths
  • Some skincare products
  • Stress


Identifying specific triggers

The first step to treating rosacea is to identify the triggers for your patient’s specific case. It could be one or several of the common causes listed above, or something entirely different.

It is advisable to experiment eliminating one possible trigger at a time to see if this changes the patient’s symptoms. This might mean asking the patient to keep a food diary, cut out spicy foods, avoid alcohol for several weeks, stay out of the sun, or change topical skincare products – just to name a few.

These small lifestyle changes are one of the mainstays of rosacea treatments. The more effectively the patient can eliminate the things that trigger their skin flushing, the more successful you can be with your treatments.


Skincare products and rosacea

Everyday skincare products can irritate rosacea and make symptoms worse. As such, it’s important that patients use gentle, non-drying skincare products designed for sensitive skin. Work with your patients to tailor a skincare regime which suits their skin, avoiding all scrubs and choosing cleansers and serums carefully.

Patients with rosacea need to wash their face twice a day with warm but not hot water. Hot water will aggravate redness, so they should avoid washing their face in a hot shower or spraying high-pressure water directly on their skin. They should also pat skin dry – never rub.


Rosacea treatments

Rosacea doesn’t have a one-treatment-fits-all solution, but some effective treatments for rosacea include:

  • Lifestyle changes to eliminate triggers
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Skincare products
  • LED light therapy
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy

Depending on the severity of the rosacea, you may prescribe several treatments to be used in conjunction. You might begin by recommending a small lifestyle change to eliminate the cause of the patient’s rosacea (for example, stop eating soy products). This may take several months of trial and error to identify. The patient might also start a course of topical creams and a cycle of LED light therapy for skin rejuvenation.

Rosacea can sometimes be difficult to treat, especially when a patient has suffered with the condition for a long time, which is why early treatment is important. Once a regime has been established and the rosacea goes away, future maintenance treatments may be required.


Does rosacea need to be treated?

Rosacea is not painful for most patients, and the condition itself can’t hurt them unless it progresses to rhinophyma. Some people aren’t bothered by the permanent red flush and never seek treatment. However, the majority of people who suffer with rosacea do wish to fix it.

Many people with rosacea are motivated to see a doctor when:

  • The constant flushing interferes with their work or social life because it’s causing embarrassment, self-esteem issues, or anxiety.
  • The condition gets too hard or time-consuming to conceal every day with makeup.
  • Others start to assume they are alcoholics because of the red flush.
  • They have a family history of rosacea and realise their symptoms will only worsen.

It’s important to address these concerns with your patient as well, as rosacea can have a significant impact on mental wellbeing.

Learn more in the Professional Diploma program in General Dermatology.

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4 comments on “[6 min read] Rosacea triggers and treatments

  1. I’m thrilled to see good, helpful advice on Rosacea! I feel all patients I get to see have been sent home with Rosex by so many Doctors and it’s about time we give these patients advice that may actually help their skin.
    (although I’m under the impression that there is no “cure” it is more management of the condition.)

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