Putting your best face forward

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that predominantly affects the skin across the cheeks and nose, but also the chin, forehead and eyes.

It commonly causes flushing, with a characteristic ‘butterfly mask’ across the middle of the face.

Initially the symptoms may come and go, but eventually the redness can become permanent, with broken blood vessels appearing, a bulbous, red or purple appearance to the nose, and blood-shot, watery eyes.

Enlarged pores, acne-like lesions and increased oil production can also accompany rosacea, but more commonly the skin is highly sensitive and can feel dry and tight.

As to what causes rosacea, scientists aren’t actually sure – contributing factors are likely to be slightly different for each individual – but some of the more common issues include:
Increased blood flow to the skin, causing the small blood vessels to enlarge and become visible which causes the skin to become warm and red.

Higher levels of inflammation in the skin: inflammation occurs when the skin reacts to a perceived threat or irritation. Higher levels of bacteria caused by tiny mites that live in the oil glands and hair follicles in skin are also a contributing factor. These too can lead to increased inflammation.

Digestive problems: it is quite common for inflammation in the digestive tract to correlate to inflammation in the skin and this is true for many rosacea sufferers.

Happily there are steps you can take to help reduce the symptoms of rosacea:

Seek professional help. Everybody’s rosacea is slightly different. Getting to the bottom of what is triggering yours might take some investigation, but it will usually mean greater success.

Avoid the things you know make your skin flush. These can include hot drinks and baths, spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine, and UV light. Never let your skin burn and invest in a good quality sunscreen to wear instead of moisturiser every day, or switch to mineral makeup.

Increase your intake of antioxidant rich foods, as these help to reduce inflammation in the skin. Excellent sources of antioxidants include brightly and dark coloured fruits and vegetables, such as berries, kale, squash and pumpkin. Also include foods like buckwheat and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds, and spices such as turmeric and saffron, and herbs such as parsley, basil and coriander.

Avoid foods that are pro-inflammatory. These include processed and refined foods, vegetable oils, sugar, and foods that contain the amino acid tyramine and histamine as these can trigger flushing in the skin, such as tinned fish, seafood and aubergine.

Support digestion with stomach acid, probiotic and digestive enzyme supplements, and include prebiotic foods such as garlic and leeks.

Beware of skincare products that contain chemicals or other ingredients that irritate your skin. Allergies to skincare ingredients are common with rosacea.

For further information and advice, Robyn can be contacted at Flourish Health, 48 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8SF on 020 7 224 2247 or online at http://www.flourish-health.co.uk

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