April is both Rosacea Awareness Month and Stress Awareness Month, so no better time to discuss how they interact! Many skin conditions can be worsened by stress, including psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. And if any year has caused stress, 2020 was it! Between COVID-19 itself, job changes, home-schooling, and quarantining, people have suffered great stress, and for many, this has shown in their skin.
Rosacea (pronounced “roh-ZAY-sha”) is a skin condition seen most often in adults ages 30 to 60 that causes redness and raised, red bumps or pustules on the face. Symptoms can also include blushing or flushing, tiny broken blood vessels on the skin, and a red nose. Over 16 million Americans are thought to suffer from rosacea. While there is no cure for rosacea, there are a variety of treatment options available!
Rosacea is caused by multiple reasons but overall is a mix of genetic and environmental factors. These factors can include stress, excess sun exposure, older age, higher body mass index (BMI), smoking, hot or spicy foods, and drinking alcohol, especially red wine. Having fair skin makes it more likely as well. It is believed that these factors may increase inflammation in the skin, which may also be partially related to microscopic mites we all have on our skin. Rosacea can also be triggered by winter weather or summer heat, with or without the sun. Rosacea symptoms often cycle between well-controlled and flare-ups. Many people have had significant rosacea flares in the last year, which is not surprising given the amount of stress the year brought. In addition, mask-wearing (and drinking!) this year has also caused people to flare.
Since our genetics cannot be altered, it is important to focus on lifestyle modifications while treating the disease. All patients with rosacea can benefit from limiting sun exposure, being very vigilant with sunscreen and hats, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking (or vaping), consuming a healthy diet, and avoiding foods that seem to trigger flares. Limiting triggers is important not only to prevent flare-ups but also to prevent worsening of the condition in the future. This is important because often rosacea will otherwise worsen over time. It is also important to avoid skincare products that may sting or burn, so as not to cause more inflammation in the skin.
Rosacea can also affect the eyes, and it is then called “ocular rosacea.” Symptoms can include red, irritated eyes or feeling like your eyes have sand in them. It is important to know if you have this as it is best to start a regimen for the eyes to prevent flares and worsening as well.
At DermPhysicians of New England, we offer an all-encompassing approach to rosacea treatment to help control these symptoms and prevent unwanted flare-ups. We help you try to identify and then avoid triggers. We use a variety of topical or oral medications, as well as gentle skincare products, to treat rosacea. We also offer Vbeam laser treatments used to target redness and broken blood vessels with minimal down-time and great results! High-stress, low-stress, we can help you overcome rosacea. We can customize a plan that you are happy with and then your skin will be too!