Associate of Occupational Science in Cosmetology, Cosmetology, Esthetics

Rosacea

By Marissa Mitchell, Esthetics Student

Everyone has their quirky characteristics; some people snort when they laugh, some people giggle when they are nervous, and some people hiccups when they are excited.  As for me, my face turns red and splotchy for a page-long list of reasons.  Before I learned about what Rosacea was, I just thought I had really weird, hyper sensitive skin and anyone I met would get my usual disclaimer: “My skin is really sensitive, if I go out in the sun, eat something spicy, or drink alcohol I get these really awesome splotches on my face.”   I often tried to make light of my skin condition, because I was, (and still am), self-conscious about it and felt I needed to address it before someone else did–which is even worse.  I often continued my self-deprecating rant with: “Just wanted you to know that I’m okay, I’m not having an allergic reaction- I was just blessed with bizarre skin; one of the many joys of being me!”

Once I learned about what Rosacea was it was like a light-bulb went off for me; suddenly it all made sense!  There was a clinical name and a diagnosis for my hyper-reactive, hyper-sensitive skin and it was called Rosacea.  The first thing I learned about Rosacea, was that I meet the criteria of who it commonly affects to a “T”: I am over 30, half Scandinavian, have relatives who have it, and I’m very fair-skinned.  Rosacea is essentially a non-contagious, chronic, inflammatory skin condition which causes the blood vessels in the face to dilate, in varying degrees.  There are several levels of Rosacea from mild, (my case), to severe.  Left untreated, it can become disfiguring.  Interestingly, doctors have not determined conclusively what causes Rosacea, nor is there a cure for it.  Common visual characteristics of Rosacea include:

  1. Flushing or blushing easily
  2. Redness, especially in the cheek, chin and nose area
  3. Telangiectasia (tiny blood vessels) on the face
  4. A red nose
  5. Acne-like skin that may ooze or crust

In addition, there are some common triggers, which can cause Rosacea flare-ups. Although my Rosacea is mild, it is triggered by everything listed.  By avoiding or being aware of triggers someone who suffers from Rosacea can reduce inflammation which is important because recurring inflammation can lead to more severe Rosacea which includes permanent redness and broken capillaries.  Common Rosacea triggers include:

  1. Sun exposure
  2. Temperature and weather
  3. Emotional distress
  4. Spicy food/ Hot food
  5. Strenuous activity
  6. Caffiene
  1. Some citrus fruits
  2. Foods high in histamine such as eggplant, spinach, vinegar, and soy sauce
  3. Alcohol, especially red wine

Learning more about Rosacea helped me accomplish several things which will help me in my future as an esthetician: first of all I have compassion and understanding for anyone who happens to have it, like I do, because it is not fun.  Secondly, I understand what Rosacea is so I can educate my clients on: what triggers to avoid, and ways to treat their skin to reduce inflammation such as using products meant for sensitive skin, avoiding harsh abrasives, using lukewarm water, and always wearing sunscreen.  Most importantly I can recognize it when I see it so I can make recommendations to my clients to see a dermatologist if their Rosacea is severe.  On a personal note, learning that Rosacea affects an estimated 16 million Americans, makes me feel like less of a weirdo, and I find that information comforting.

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