10 Things You Need to Know About Rosacea—Whether You Have It or Not

It's time to pay attention to those flushed cheeks, as they may not be as innocent as they seem...

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It's caused by inflammation

inflammationiStock/nemkeYou've probably heard of common skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, but do you also know about rosacea? If not, you've got to listen up. "Rosacea is abnormal blood vessel growth in all layers of the skin, caused by internal problems and inflammation within the body and skin," says Julia T. Hunter, MD, a dermatologist and founder of Wholistic Dermatology. This abnormal blood vessel growth is the result of low thyroid, fungal overgrowth internally, gut inflammation, and chronic sun overexposure, she says.

 

Pay attention to new veins

veinsiStock/russaquariusOK, so now you know what the condition is, but how can you identify it? According to Dr. Hunter, one of the greatest symptoms can be detected in your veins. "Symptoms include redness, a tangle of tiny or larger veins appearing on the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead, neck and chest," Dr. Hunter says. And they're dilated, which makes you look flushed, especially when drinking alcohol, nervous, embarrassed, sweating, hot flushes, eating spicy foods, she explains. Have you noticed little vein webs in your skin as of late? If so, the issue may extend beyond a sunburn or aging.

Rosacea tends to start around the age of 30

30iStock/gpointstudio"Flare-ups typically become bothersome any time after or around age 30, and increases from there," says Dr. Hunter. However, if you've noticed the redness showing up earlier in life, there's a reason for that too. "Flare-ups may also start in childhood from significant food allergies and sensitivities (especially to gluten)," she explains. (Find out the 7 signs your child has a food sensitivity.)

You should first treat it internally

internallyiStock/IuriiSokolovThough rosacea is a skin condition, your primary focus shouldn't be on treating it externally. "Rosacea must be treated both internally and externally for optimal treatment to prevent progression and for resolution of symptoms, as it is caused by internal problems including low thyroid. If you do not treat the cause internally, then you will just treat the symptoms in perpetuity and never really decrease the symptoms and outbreaks," Dr. Hunter warns. "Some people are very sensitive genetically to foods and ingredients and internal physiological deficiencies, so they tend to struggle with rosacea." Your first line of defense is to make sure your thyroid levels are under control and identify any food sensitivities. (Learn the silent signs of a thyroid problem.)

Diet adjustments can work wonders

dietiStock/JuanmoninoIf you want to see real improvements, commit to some lifestyle adjustments. "Gut inflammation is often a major cause of rosacea, due to eating incorrectly for your blood type and/or lacking hydrochloric acid in your stomach," says Dr. Hunter. "Following a healthy, balanced diet that contains greens and healthy meats and vegetables can help to improve rosacea outbreaks," says Dr. Hunter. Start with these essential foods for beautiful skin.

You can and should treat it with the right skincare ingredients

skincareiStock/vadimguzhvaRemember that the skin is a window to what is going on inside and to win the battle and the war you must treat the body both internally and externally, Dr. Hunter says. She suggests using topical skincare products that are non-toxic, non-inflammatory, and irritation diminishing as much as "scientifically possible." (Think emu oil, gentle serums, cleansers, etc.) "Maximal Strength Skin Therapy products to help reduce and soothe the irritated skin," Dr. Hunter says. (Dr. Hunter is the creator of the line.) For drugstore products, consider Aveeno's Ultra Calming Line or Eucerin Redness Relief (Find out the nine all-natural, skin-soothing moisturizers you already have in your house.)

You have to carefully read labels

labeliStock/ShotShareSome common irritating ingredients to avoid include alcohol, witch hazel, fragrance, menthol, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil. Read your labels to make sure none of these are listed on your products. (Does your face need a vacation from makeup? What a derm says.)

Avoid microdermabrasion at all costs

microdermabrasioniStock/robertprzybyszAs with many skin conditions, you'll want to avoid irritating treatments that can worsen the condition. "If you are using inflammatory ingredients in products and getting aggressive procedures, then that can begin or exacerbate the condition as well," Dr. Hunter says. In particular, she cautions against microdermabrasion. "In my experience it often contributes to rosacea production over time."

You need to speak to your derm

dermiStock/RichardForeman"If you suffer from rosacea, there is an underlying cause that is contributing to your condition," says Dr. Hunter. "Seek help from your dermatologist to treat the underlying issues contributing to the flare-ups." Your doctor will prescribe the right medication, suggest the appropriate lifestyle adjustments, and help you find the most gentle products on the market for rosacea treatment. (Find out the ten signs you need a dermatologist—STAT!)

You're absolutely not alone!

aloneiStock/monkeybusinessimagesOne of the most difficult parts of realizing that you have a skin condition is the fear that something is wrong with you and that you are completely alone. But Dr. Hunter assures that acne rosacea isn't a rare issue. In fact, "rosacea is common these days due to poor eating habits and toxic ingredients in skin products. It may affect approximately 16 million Americans," she says.

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