Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that can worsen over the years if not properly managed. If you have redness on your face or experience burning or tingling sensations that may be accompanied by spots, you are likely suffering from this skin disorder. Discover our advice for reducing rosacea and living more comfortably with it.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea affects approximately 415 million people worldwide. Although this skin condition can appear from childhood, it often reaches its peak between the ages of 30 and 50. Those with fair skin and women are most likely to develop this disorder. The characteristic symptom of rosacea is the presence of a widespread and extensive redness on the face. This typically concentrates around the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. The small blood vessels in the face tend to dilate and become visible. Rosacea is also accompanied by numerous invisible symptoms, such as hot flushes, significant skin sensitivity, burning sensations, and tingling around the affected areas.
The causes of this dermatological disorder are still poorly identified, however, several ongoing studies have shown that certain factors could be responsible for rosacea flare-ups. These include hereditary predisposition, parasitic colonisation, heat, sunlight, stress or a certain diet. These various elements, apart from genetics, are capable of activating receptors present in the epidermis, which have nociceptive and/or inflammatory roles. It has thus been shown that exposure to one or more of the factors mentioned above contributes to promoting hot flushes, redness and sensations of irritation experienced by people affected by rosacea.
This skin disease tends to progress over time and operates in cycles. Its symptoms can notably disappear for a few weeks before suddenly returning in a more intense manner. Indeed, the face can also be affected by significant swelling, deformities or papules. In the most severe cases, rosacea reaches the eyes and causes their inflammation. Four subtypes of rosacea have been identified:
Vascular rosacea or couperose.
This is the most common form of rosacea. It primarily induces hot flushes, temporary or permanent redness known as erythema, heightened skin sensitivity, and the dilation of vessels beneath the skin, becoming visible.
It is sometimes mistaken for acne due to the presence of red spots, and even pustules, in addition to redness. Papulopustular rosacea is also accompanied by feelings of tightness and sensations of burning and discomfort.
This rare form is characterised by a thickening of the skin and a dilation of the skin pores of the nose, referred to as "rhinophyma". This is a major complication of rosacea, due to the aesthetic damage it causes. The skin thickening is sometimes associated with papulo-pustules and can extend to the rest of the face.
The Ocular Rosacea.
Rosacea sometimes affects the eyes. In such instances, patients exhibit redness in the eyelids, conjunctivitis, and dry eyes. Often, they also suffer from a persistent sensation of having grains of sand in their eyes.
It is important to consult a dermatologist at the first signs of symptoms. Mild rosacea can quickly lead to complications, particularly affecting the eyes.
How to alleviate rosacea?
Rosacea being a chronic condition, there is no definitive curative treatment. However, a dermatologist can prescribe several soothing and calming treatments to reduce the symptoms. If you suffer from rosacea, you can also take some additional precautions to prevent rosacea flare-ups.
The first step to take if you are suffering from rosacea is to apply a sunscreen every morning with an SPF of at least 50. If you need to be exposed to the sun for extended periods, avoid direct radiation by wearing a hat and trying to stay in the shade. It has indeed been shown that the sun's UVB rays, which are very energetic, are likely to interact with the TRVP4 receptors of the epidermis, partly responsible for the deterioration of skin tissues. The stimulation of these receptors triggers nociceptive mechanisms and a change in the structure of the skin.
Hydrate the face with a suitable treatment.
A skin suffering from rosacea requires a gentle and soothing moisturiser to calm it. The application of creams based onhyaluronic acid for instance, allows for deep skin hydration, while also protecting it against external aggressions and free radicals. To supplement your skin's hydration, you can also use a care product enriched with bisabolol. This active ingredient, known for its soothing and healing properties, can alleviate the sensations of irritation and burning that are characteristic of rosacea.
Avoid trigger foods...
The consumption of certain foods is discouraged when suffering from rosacea. Indeed, studies have shown that spicy foods such as chilli, pepper or bell pepper are likely to interact with certain receptors that have nociceptive and inflammatory roles. It is also advised against consuming alcoholic beverages or foods high in histamine (tomatoes, citrus fruits...) or in cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon) in case of rosacea. These tend to have a vasodilatory effect and cause hot flushes and the appearance of redness.
... and prioritise the consumption of certain foods.
On the contrary, the consumption of certain foods can be beneficial and reduce rosacea flare-ups. The caffeine in particular has vasoconstrictive properties and can help limit outbreaks. Furthermore, vitamin B2, found in green vegetables and rice, and zinc, found in seafood and certain meats, stimulate certain signalling pathways that trigger anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
Thèse de Kelly ZAROUKIAN. Étude des aspects cliniques cellulaires et moléculaires de la rosacée, des traitements dermo-cosmétiques associés ainsi que de l’impact sur la qualité de vie des patients (2017).
STEINHOFF M. & al. Recent advances in understanding and managing rosacea. F1000 Research (2018).
TAN J. & al. Rosacea: New concepts in classification and treatment. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2021).
ALI F. & al. Rosacea. British Journal of Hospital Medicine.(2021).