Rosacea (pronounced ‘Row-say-sha’) is a skin condition affecting millions of men and women throughout the world. For years very little was known about rosacea and was mistakenly considered as a form of acne and given the name ‘acne rosacea’. It is only now, years later, that research has shown that it is not a form of acne whatsoever.
Rosacea is actually a progressive vascular disorder which has 4 very strong characteristics: reddening of the skin or a blushing effect, red bumps (papules), red skin blemished with whiteheads (pustules) and dilated blood vessels on the face (telangiectasia).
These characteristics usually affect the face only, but in rare cases can affect the neck chest and scalp. In men, if the condition becomes severe it can progress into a condition called phymatous rosacea where the skin thickens in the nose and swells and becomes bulbous (rhinophyma).
Rosacea affects all ethnicities but more often in Caucasians of European descent. This led to the nickname “The curse of the Celts” by people from UK and Ireland where It mainly affects women but often presents more severe cases in men.
Although the cause of rosacea is unknown, there are many well-known factors which can trigger the condition to flare up on the skin. These include:
- Extreme temperatures
- Spicy food
- Acidic fruit and vegetables
- Sun exposure/UV exposure
- Dairy products
- Cold weather
- Cosmetic products
There are many other triggers which can cause rosacea to flare up but can be highly individual with triggers differing from person to person.
Most people who suffer with rosacea only have mild symptoms and are never formally diagnosed with the condition.
Rosacea impacts people in different ways and can cause embarrassment, unhappiness, low self-esteem and withdrawal from social relationships. If you suspect your client may have rosacea then it is advisable to suggest they visit their GP to have the condition confirmed by them. As therapists we cannot diagnose this condition but we can describe it as rosacea-like until it has been confirmed by a medical professional.
Where there is no known cure for rosacea there are many options to treat rosacea and improve it.
Firstly keeping a ‘blushing diary’ will allow the assessment of potential triggers, noting down foods eaten throughout day, activities done and the times when the blushing and reddening becomes more apparent. Cross-referencing the diary with times of flare ups will give an idea of the triggers to the condition.
Once the triggers have been identified then lifestyle adjustments need to be considered. For example, if eating certain foods causes flare ups then the decision has to be made whether eating them is worth the effects.
Body massage is a highly valuable tool to improving rosacea as it can be flared up by stress. As we know massage is well-known for its relaxing and de-stressing benefits and for many just massage alone can reduce the tension in the body and the redness too.