For millions of sufferers, the fact that there is no known cure for rosacea can be disheartening. The good news is the condition is definitely treatable. In fact, by not treating rosacea you run the risk of having the symptoms worsen.
It is definitely important to work with a physician who can help with choosing the appropriate treatment plan, depending on the type and severity of your rosacea. The treatment options for rosacea can include antibiotics, topical medications, anti-hypertensives, lifestyle changes, and even laser treatments.
Rosacea is an inflammatory condition; and antibiotics can help to reduce inflammation, as well as inhibit blood vessel formation, which is at the heart of this skin problem. As is the case with most antibiotics that are prescribed, they aren’t intended for open-ended use, most especially because of the fact that your body can become resistant to the medication…not to mention that there are usually numerous side effects that can accompany antibiotics. Once the more irritating and severe symptoms have subsided, other treatment options can help keep the rosacea under control.
Working with your physician, a treatment plan can be created that might include other oral medications (aside from antibiotics) and topical medications. These options can help to reduce the redness and inflammation and, depending on what is prescribed, might also work on oil-producing glands in the skin to lessen outbreaks of acne rosacea. When using topical medications, a good rule of thumb is to wait after washing your face approximately 30 minutes prior to applying them to avoid stinging. Give the medication another few minutes to dry if you are then going to apply moisturizers, make-up, etc.
One option that can be worth researching with your physician is laser treatments. These treatments can help reduce the blood vessels that start to become more visible under the skin and possibly other symptoms, such as “pimples”; however, it is extremely important to enlist the counsel and services of a physician who has experience and is skilled in the use of lasers for rosacea therapy.
Lifestyle changes can be as simple as changing how you wash your face to something more challenging, such as controlling the stress in your life.
When cleansing your face, use lukewarm water rather than hot, use your fingertips rather than abrasive washcloths or scrubbing sponges, avoid products that contain alcohol and fragrances, and if you are shaving your face, consider using an electric shaver in lieu of a typical razorblade shaver.
Other lifestyle changes involve trying to avoid, as much as possible, the triggers that were discussed in last week’s blog: sun exposure, hot drinks, red wine, spicy foods, etc.
In 2007, the National Rosacea Society conducted a survey to determine how rosacea affects sufferers emotionally and mentally in their daily lives. The survey results showed that:
- 76% had lower self-confidence and self-esteem
- 70% of those with severe symptoms were negatively impacted professionally when interacting with others
- 38% shared that they avoided social engagements and being out in public
- 30% revealed it caused them to miss work
The vicious circle this can create is that stress can aggravate rosacea and the aforementioned results of having rosacea can cause that stress. Learning stress reduction techniques can certainly be of benefit. Some patients have been prescribed anti-hypertensives to lower their blood pressure (high blood pressure is a trigger), which can reduce certain symptoms (such as severe flushing); but this most definitely is not an option for everyone and must be seriously discussed with your physician.
Treating rosacea and minimizing the symptoms are very doable. If you suffer from rosacea, you owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about the condition, and talk with your physician to find out what might be the best treatment for you.
If you have rosacea and either have an encouraging story to tell about how you are treating it or have further questions about dealing with it, I’d like to hear from you.