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What is it: rosacea (and some does and don'ts)

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June 2, 2008 Reviewed by Marta 2 Comments

I first saw red about eight years ago. I've always had sensitive skin but it took some over-exfoliation and lot of air travel to bring on a full blown rosacea attack. A trip to the dermatologist armed me with Clindamycin and a Desonide lotion. With 0.5% Desonide, this is a low potency cortisone cream that I still use (very, very judiciously) to this day to manage any hints of a flare up.

Within a couple of weeks, things started to calm down and I have learned a lot in the subsequent years about what to use and - probably more importantly - what to avoid in terms of skin care and make up. There is a lot of silly advice offered to rosacea sufferers such as don't exercise (OK, if its rosacea or a premature cardiac arrest as a result of a sedentary lifestyle, I'll take the rosy cheeks) or eat anything red or spicy. So first of all it helps to understand what it is.

I've always thought of it as something to do with over active blood vessels. In fact, there was a breakthrough study published in August 2007 by the chief dermatologist at the University of California. According to Prof Richard Gallo, rosacea is the overproduction of two anti-inflammatory proteins. With the right triggers, these two proteins create a very localized overabundance of a third protein. From now on doctors will hopefully prescribe treatments that control the inflammatory response.

In the meantime, don't fan the flames. Inflammation can be increased by exfoliation. I started my bout with an over-zealous use of Eve Lom's cleanser. This had cult status in the UK around the end of the 1990s, but it is basically a grainy paste used with a very hot wash cloth. This isn't a good combination if you are prone to rosacea.Hot towel treatments at the spa or steam deep cleansing can also be drastic. Exfoliators, by and large, should be approached with extreme caution as should cleansers with harsh soaps or detergents.

I was an early adopter of Tracie Martyn's Amla cleanser and I embarrassed to admit that within a month I gushed to anyone who would listen that it had changed my life. In a rather more sober way, I am happy to testify that I really do believe it has kept the rosacea in check for the last few years. Tracie's exfoliator is also good because it doesn't scrub; it uses fruit enzymes that 'eat' the dead skin cells.

My skin has been largely stable for the last few years and I now undergo a little micro-dermabrasion once a month. I have also started to use a serum with relatively gentle glycolic and lactic acids about four times a week. I use Image Skincare's Ageless Serum. All of which has led me to become bolder with make up. I've made a few mistakes: a horrible outbreak was caused by VIP Expert by Terry a few weeks ago and I was forced to cut everything out except my old faithfuls while I tracked down the culprit by a process of elimination.

It is important to read the ingredients label. OK, I guess you know by now that I am a complete nerd about that. As a rule of thumb, be careful with chemical preservatives (such as phenoxyphanol), alcohol (the harsh drying ingredient in some cosmetics, not your regular glass of red), perfumes/fragrance and even some botanicals such as menthol, peppermint and eucalyptus.

Anyway, back to the inflammation. Anti-oxidants are some of the best weapons against inflammation. Most of Truth In Aging's recommendations cram in plenty of them. For treating residual surface redness, vitamin K creams can be helpful. For very stubborn areas, laser or IPL might be necessary.

  • June 27, 2009

    by ChicBeautyOver40

    I developed rosacea in my 40s, and I've tried all the topical prescriptions on the market, but drugs don't give me the best results. My current regimen, which keeps my skin out of the red zone: B. Kamins Booster Blue Rosacea Masque every morning (put it on damp face, wait a few minutes, rinse with cool water); Dr. Brandt Laser in a Bottle under sunscreen; and mineral powder makeup on my skin. These products make me a happy, rosacea-free woman!

  • January 9, 2009

    by Renata

    Thank you very much for this info.


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