[By Tania Hui]
Remember Renee Zellweger’s groundbreaking role in the romcom, “Bridgette Jone’s Dairy”? Although bubbly Renee’s personality is probably miles away from the painfully shy demeanor of her onscreen character, her real life infliction with cheeks that are way too rosy helped her nailed the role to a T. Also known as “the Curse of the Celts”, when rosy cheeks go too far, you might be suffering from Rosacea.
Rosacea is a skin condition that affects over 45 million people worldwide, and although it’s not dangerous to health, Rosacea can be a daily nuisance and cause increase skin deformity with age. At early stages, it causes embarrassing red flushes with certain triggers, at times associated with raised, itchy bumps or acneiform pustules. Over time and left untreated, Rosacea patients will start to suffer from skin thickening of nose, chin and cheeks; form unsightly broken blood vessels, and may even notice their nose enlarging with bulbous deformity. Because this is a skin condition that worsens with age, the trick lies in early diagnosis to prevent its progression. With prompt treatment and proper care, you can keep Rosacea from getting to the point where it visually and tactically changes the quality of your skin…, and that of your life, so to speak.
Know your triggers
Avoiding Rosacea flares are key in preventing the progression of this common skin disease. The less you breakout with an episode, the less your skin will change in response to these inflammatory assaults. The earlier you learn what your triggers are, the better you can avoid them, thus saving your skin from getting thicker, redder and riddled with broken capillaries and acne-liked scarring.
Common triggers include sun, heat, spicy foods, skin irritants, alcoholic beverages, hot liquids and stress which can cause vasodilation and skin flushing, leading to possible rosacea triggering. Flushing per se will not necessarily cause a flare but the more a person with rosacea flushes, the chance of triggering a true Rosacea flare is increased which can in turn lead to permanent skin changes associated with frequent flares. If you suspect a possible triggering factor in your diet, cut it out for a few days and watch the reaction of your skin. If it’s an absolute must-have that you cannot do without, slowing reintroduce it cause sometimes, you can get away with eating small quantities as opposed to a voracious binge!
Adequate sun protection
Rosacea-prone skin is usually fairly sensitive and can get very irritated and flare up from unprotected sun exposure. To protect yourself from the harmful ultraviolet rays, use a broadspectrum UVA/UVB protective sunscreen that is physical or mineral based. Physical blockers avoid additional irritation that chemical sunscreens may cause on Rosacea-prone skin. To provide coverage against redness and skin blemishes, opt for mineral based make-up which allow skin to breath and prevent the build up of heat. Sloane Inc. Sheer Mineral Powder is an excellent choice that is completely sheer and ideal as its non-comedogenic formula does not clog pores; making it suitable for sensitive, Rosacea-prone skin. Its natural mineral ingredients gently absorb excess oil, softens imperfections and evens out skin to a matte, poreless finish; allowing one’s face to stay fresh all day.
Creams to treat
The cause of this disfiguring skin condition remains largely unknown but its association with acne outbreaks at times had led some to believe that there’s an infective component to it. We can control Rosacea and prevent it from progressing with early treatment being key to maintain the youthful qualities of the skin. Certain topical medications proven useful include metronidazole, often recommended by dermatologists as a first line treatment for mild to moderate redness and pimples associated with Rosacea. Benzoyl Peroxide is primarily used as an acne treatment for its bactericidal property but also has an anti-inflammatory effect against Rosacea. However, it can also cause severe drying and irritation and therefore should be used only in certain cases and under proper medical supervision.
Combining a low dose Benzoic Acid with 20% Azelaic Acid which helps unclog pores and ultimately reduces inflammation normally caused by blockage, Sloane Inc. Skin Rescue multitasks as an acne fighting, anti-inflammatory and pigment preventing agent to maintain the skin sane by keeping repeated Rosacea flares at bay.
Zap me pretty
Once repeated Rosacea flares leave skin with visible dilated blood vessels, known medically as telangiectasias, your best bet to improve the appearance of your skin is with Intense Pulse Light (IPL) or Laser Therapy.
“Redness and persistent flushing are possibly the most annoying and disfiguring features of long standing Rosacea that are best treated with lasers,” advises Dr. Tan Wang Theng, senior medical consultant with The Sloane Clinic. “Most patients who underwent our Balancing Program report a significant improvement in their symptoms following 4 to 6 sessions of Candela VBeam Perfecta treatment with up to 80 percent affirming that they would do it again either for clearance or maintenance purposes.”
The Candela VBeam Perfecta Laser delivers an intense but gentle burst of yellow light to selectively targeted areas of the skin. This light is absorbed by blood vessels and the heat causes the telangiectasias to collapse or shrink without collateral damage to surrounding healthy skin. In addition, the laser energy can also help stimulate new collagen formation, resulting in a certain degree of skin ‘remodelling’ with anti-aging benefits!
The Candela VBeam Perfecta laser has a special Dynamic Cooling Device (DCD), which delivers a very cold spray to the skin just before the laser pulse is emitted. This helps to minimise the discomfort during treatment, with each pulses feeling nothing more than an elastic band being ‘snapped’ against the skin. The treatment is largely bearable especially with topical anaesthetic cream and immediately after, the area may appear red and mildly swollen (sunburn like). You may also have some degree of bruising which is unlikely if treatment is purely for Rosacea. It is advisable to use gentle cleansers and moisturisers during the healing phase and to avoid scrubs or potentially irritating products such as those containing retinols and AHA.
Support from within
There’s a lot of talk and studies in recent years with regards to the macros and micros in your nutritional intake and their correlation with diseases including Rosacea flare-ups. There are some food which can strengthen skin from within, and antioxidant rich produce are good for this. Try spinach, broccoli, carrot, red/orange/yellow peppers and other brightly coloured vegetables and fruits. A word of caution though— acidic fruits such as lemons and limes can make Rosacea noticeably worse in some and tomatoes are another infamous trigger to watch out too.
Rosacea though largely void of ill effects to one’s health, can be socially embarassing, making one feel like not leaving the house, with adverse effects on one’s mood and self confidence too. However, with a little effort and changes to your everyday routine, Rosacea-prone skin can be very manageble, especially if you start early, before things go awry and get out of control.