January 20, 2014

Do You Have Adult Acne? ...Or Is It Really Rosacea?

While I regard myself an Adult Acne specialist, I also specialize in Rosacea and Sensitivity. As someone who actually has Rosacea herself, I can understand the frustrations that come along with not knowing how to properly manage the condition -- or even knowing the difference between a Rosacea breakout and an Adult Acne breakout!

Rosacea mainly affects people of northern European descent, but can also be experienced by people of other races. This condition is marked by a chronic redness on the cheeks, chin, nose and forehead, with a collection of visible blood vessels on any of these areas. (These vessels often look like a tiny roadmap.) When Rosacea worsens during a “flare-up” small pimples with whiteheads can develop. Both the whiteheads and the redness calm down after the flare-up subsides. Generally, Rosacea starts to show up during your late twenties or early thirties but can also show signs earlier.

One of the primary ways you can distinguish a Rosacea breakout from an Adult Acne breakout is that in Rosacea there isn't the presence of the large blackheads that often accompany an acne breakout.  You can also notice the difference when the redness associated with an Adult Acne breakout is only on the blemishes themselves.  In the case of Rosacea, the redness surrounds the entire area on and around any red bumps.  These red bumps are mostly of small, even size, whereas the bumps are of different sizes in Adult Acne.

In other words -- If you have redness around the entire cheek and chin area and middle of the forehead, and the small pimples in those areas are not accompanied by blackheads, you’re suffering from a Rosacea flare-up, not an Adult Acne breakout.

Rosacea was previously thought to be a skin condition, which is why antibiotics used to be prescribed to treat symptoms, but it is now understood that Rosacea is actually a vascular disorder that cannot be addressed by antibiotics alone. The cause is unknown and there is no cure for Rosacea, but it is understood to be genetic and possibly connected to an inherited weakness within the capillary walls together with a sensitivity to a mite that lives in the pores of everyone born in a hospital.  There has also recently been found a link between Rosacea and migraine headaches. With this information in mind, a skincare routine geared towards managing Rosacea breakouts must concentrate on calming and soothing the skin, reducing the intensity of blood flow, strengthening capillary walls, and reducing the presence of a particular enzyme that seems to trigger outbreaks in Rosacea skin. 

In more severe cases, prescription medications like Oracea, Finacea, Metrogel, or Metrocreme are very effective when used in conjunction with a personalized skincare routine, supplements, and lifestyle changes.

The top lifestyle changes to keep in mind are the following:
• The biggest Rosacea trigger is sun exposure. You must really become obsessive about sunscreen usage and you should avoid sun exposure whenever possible. 
• Lowering the consumption of alcohol (or cutting it out completely if the condition is severe) is a major factor in minimizing Rosacea flare-ups. 
• You should work on eliminating spicy or other triggering foods if you notice that they cause flare-ups (foods don’t usually trigger most people, but take note of what you ingest and see if anything causes sensitivity). 
• Make sure to exercise only in ventilated areas or outside before 10am or after 4pm to minimize too much exposure to sun and heat. 
• You should entirely avoid steam rooms and saunas, which also means no more hot yoga.  Sorry, but hot yoga is a huge trigger for Rosacea flareups.
• Turn down the temperature of your shower.
• Cover your face when there are extreme changes in temperature, i.e. from cold wind to a warm building.
• When the heat is on full blast in your car, open the passenger side window just a crack to prevent too much heat on your face.
• Increase your consumption of dark green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, and the pith of citrus fruits.
• Take a Vitamin C supplement that has extra bioflavanoids added. A great supplement is "Quercetin Complex".

Next :  a how-to on a Rosacea skincare routine ! 

If you think you might have Rosacea based on this blog post and would like more personalized advice, please fill out my Eval by Email® Online Skin Care Consultation form. :)

Know someone who might have Rosacea but has been treating it as acne?  Please share this post!