If you’ve ever noticed someone with very red cheeks, you may have thought that they were sunburned or had just finished a hard workout, which may be the case. However, they may have a skin condition called rosacea. Primarily affecting the center of your face—cheeks, nose, forehead and chin—rosacea is a condition of redness, flushing and inflammation. It usually appears in people over the age of 30 and can involve flare-ups and periods of remission. In most cases, rosacea begins as annoying flushing, but untreated it can progress to thickening of your skin, bumps, pimples, broken blood vessels and in severe cases, a thickened and enlarged nose. In some people, rosacea can also affect their eyes, making them feel irritated and look red or watery.
Needless to say, we all want to look and feel well, and having rosacea can be a hit to your self-esteem and quality of life. The National Rosacea Society reported that about 90 percent of rosacea sufferers say that their condition has diminished their self-confidence and self-esteem. Close to half reported that they avoided social contact and have canceled engagements due to this skin condition. Almost 90 percent said that having rosacea has had a negative impact on their work interactions, and about half said they’ve lost work because of it.
Who Gets Rosacea and What Causes It?
Just about anyone can get rosacea, but people with fair skin who are prone to blushing or flushing are at the highest risk. Interestingly, while women are more often diagnosed with rosacea, men with rosacea tend to have more severe symptoms. Research also suggests that rosacea may run in families, and it tends to be more common in people from northern or eastern Europe.
The exact cause of rosacea is unclear, but recent scientific discoveries may shed some light on the origin of this condition, potentially leading to new treatments. Recently scientists have found that facial redness is the beginning of an inflammatory reaction sparked by both neurovascular imbalance (affecting both nerves and blood vessels) and your body’s innate immune system. Your innate immune system involves barriers that keep pathogens from entering your body—essentially your body’s first line of defense. This and other related discoveries suggest that inflammation is a common factor in rosacea.
Prior to current research, a microscopic mite (Demodex folliculorum) that lives on the surface of your skin has been the best-known cause of rosacea, and is still considered to be a major factor. While the Demodex mite normally lives on your skin, it’s been found in higher concentrations in the skin of people who have rosacea.
How Do I Know If I Have Rosacea?
There are a number of symptoms that are consistent with rosacea, and if you suspect that you have this condition, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by your dermatologist or health care provider. The following are signs and symptoms of this condition:
- Chronic facial redness that has the appearance of a sunburn or blushing
- Frequent flushing that may also feel hot. In the early stages of rosacea this type of flushing may come and go
- Pimples, whiteheads and small solid red bumps (not blackheads) may develop as a progression of rosacea. These pimples and bumps may look like acne, but are often accompanied by burning or stinging.
- Telangiectasia, or visible blood vessels, rise to the surface and appear on your cheeks, chin, forehead or the bridge of your nose.
- A sensation of burning or stinging on your face may be present
- Eye involvement, called ocular rosacea may also occur. This may take the form of irritation, redness and watering. Your eyelids may also become irritated and swollen, with the appearance of small pimples or sties. In addition, blood vessels may also appear around your eyelids.
- Thickened skin can occur in severe cases. While less common, excess tissue can build up on the nose, a condition called rhinophyma. In severe cases it can lead to disfigurement and obstructed nasal breathing.
- Swelling of the facial skin, development of raised areas (plaques) and dry skin may also be associated with rosacea.
Conventional treatment for rosacea is geared toward your specific symptoms and progression of the condition. In most cases topical or oral medications may be prescribed to target the redness, bumps and pimples. Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed for some people, and in more severe cases intense pulsed light (IPL) may be used to treat blood vessels or thickening of the nose.
Unfortunately, for many people current rosacea treatments offer only limited help. For that reason, many people turn to acupuncture and other natural therapies. At BodaHealth, we offer a number of options to our patients with rosacea, including:
- Acupuncture, because it’s been used as an effective treatment for skin conditions for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Research has documented that it can be effective in treating eczema and psoriasis, and some research indicates that it also treats rosacea. Acupuncture can help with rosacea by decreasing local inflammation and promoting better microcirculation (the tiny vessels and capillaries) in your face. In addition, red cheeks and flushing are actually associated with several diagnostic patterns in Chinese medicine which can be addressed through acupuncture.
- Chinese herbal medicine is also a good option, especially in conjunction with acupuncture. That’s because a combination of herbs can be formulated to address the specific imbalance that’s at the root of your rosacea. In addition, herbs work on the same diagnostic principle as acupuncture, so taking an herbal formula supports and strengthens your acupuncture treatments.
- At BodaHealth, we may also prescribe cold laser therapy to treat rosacea. Cold laser is a kind of light therapy that involves the use of a low level laser to gently and painlessly treat the affected area. Cold laser doesn’t burn or ablate (remove or erode) tissue. Instead, the light emitted penetrates into the deeper levels of tissue to promote positive changes on a cellular level. It works to improve circulation, restore cellular balance and metabolism and promote tissue healing. At BodaHealth we also use cold laser therapy in the treatment of other skin conditions including acne, scar reduction, eczema, psoriasis and in the repair of aging skin.
- Naturopathic medicine addresses rosacea by looking for toxicities, imbalances and nutritional deficiencies in your body. In addition to a thorough health history, our naturopathic physician also assesses your diet, digestion and lifestyle. Their treatments involve a combination of supplementation, diet and lifestyle strategies. While our naturopathic physician works primarily with natural treatments, they are also able to run lab tests and prescribe oral and topical medications when necessary.
- At BodaHealth, we understand the importance of nutrition in good health. For that reason, we have holistic nutritionists on our team. They’re well-aware of the link between diet and skin health, and can help patients with rosacea with dietary strategies, such as eliminating triggers, correcting deficiencies and imbalances, and adding foods and nutrients for healthy skin.
Sadly, many people who have rosacea feel like there’s no relief from the redness, burning, broken vessels, pimples and bumps associated with this condition. And many people with rosacea feel like the standard treatments currently available don’t satisfactorily address their rosacea. However at BodaHealth we offer natural solutions that treat imbalances and conditions that are often the underlying cause of your rosacea. If you want more information about rosacea treatment options, give us a call today.