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Condition - Rosacea

Facial erythema

By Jenny Bodenham BA (Hons) DipION, MBANT

Sometimes referred to as “adult acne”, rosacea is a chronic skin condition primarily affecting the face and usually develops between the ages of 30 and 50 years. Rosacea is estimated to affect some 45 million people worldwide, but what exactly is it and how can it be managed?

Characterised by an acute red flushing of the face; usually over the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin; rosacea may also be accompanied by pimples and bumps, with the nose assuming a lumpy appearance in severe cases. When accompanied by acne pimples, the condition is referred to as acne rosacea. The redness may, initially, be intermittent but can become permanent, often causing emotional distress to the sufferer. In some cases, the eyes are affected and become watery, irritated or sore-looking.


Whilst the exact cause of rosacea is not known, the condition appears more prevalent in those who have increased blood flow and flush more easily. Higher levels of damaging free radicals, which trigger inflammatory reactions, have been found in rosacea skin. Researchers also suggest that microscopic mites known as Demodex folliculorum may provoke an immune response, stimulating tissue inflammation. Poor digestion commonly accompanies rosacea, with some studies suggesting a possible link to the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Low levels of a gut enzyme called IAP (intestinal alkaline phosphatase) may also be a factor in rosacea. IAP plays a role in inhibiting an inflammatory response to intestinal bacteria.

Managing rosacea

Typical triggers include emotional stress, sunlight, temperature extremes, spicy foods, very hot drinks, alcohol, caffeine, skincare products containing alcohol and excessive exercise. However, whilst these are common culprits, triggers will vary from person to person and the first line of action is to keep a daily diary in order to identify specific triggers, which can then be avoided.


Don’t forget to support your antioxidant defences with colourful fruits and vegetables, which help to strengthen blood vessels and combat free radicals, particularly foods containing beta carotene such as carrots, sweet potato and butternut squash. Zinc is another important nutrient for skin, found in foods such as fish, turkey, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. B vitamins support skin health, so increasing wholegrains, nuts and pulses is also a good idea.  Adding omega 3 oil to your diet and supplementing GLA, found in starflower oil may also be beneficial. Digestive problems such as bloating, belching and indigestion may benefit from a stomach acid or digestive enzyme supplement, whilst supplementing probiotic bacteria may help to keep the gut flora balanced.

Using gentle, natural skincare and establishing a good cleansing routine should help minimise redness. Finally, an MSM-based skin cream showed significant improvements in skin conditions in a study by Italian researchers on rosacea sufferers. So, whilst rosacea may not be curable, much can be done to help manage the condition from day to day. 


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