A chronic inflammatory skin condition with the appearance of redness over the central part of the face that persists. Bumps, pimples and enlarged blood vessels are also common, resulting in a rough texture. Cold, windy weather, a spicy meal, an emotional moment or an intense workout may make the average person pink in the cheeks. But if those events cause you to go red easily and it lingers, you may have rosacea. “It’s very common, at least 10 percent of our population has it,” says Dr. Catherine Zip, a Calgary-based dermatologist and spokesperson for the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada.
What causes rosacea?
“Anyone can get rosacea, it’s seen in all skin types. But it’s classically more common in Celtic or fair skin. It’s felt to have genetic factors, but we don’t really know what causes it,” says Dr. Zip. While its origin is unknown, there is new research linking the skin condition to other diseases. (In fact, your skin can reveal a lot about your health.) The Canadian Dermatology Association states that more than half of sufferers may experience eye symptoms, such as dryness, irritation and redness. “People know about inflammation, but my sense is that patients with rosacea don’t really think of it as being more than a skin issue,” she says. And it could be an indicator of much more. “There’s been a focus recently on diseases associated with rosacea, including cardiovascular diseases (such as hypertension and coronary artery disease), gastrointestinal diseases (such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease) and neurological conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease).” Expect to hear more as science digs deeper in the coming years. Read up on the 12 things dermatologists do in the winter to maintain healthy skin.
How to reduce rosacea redness
What is known about rosacea, which includes subtypes of the condition, is that it can be like a fingerprint — appearing differently in each person. While there’s no cure, what you put on your face is a general starting point to managing it. “It’s really important to use products for sensitive skin, to avoid anything alcohol-based, like a toner, and I definitely suggest looking for products without fragrance,” says Dr. Zip. (Try Bioderma Sensibio Mild Cleansing Foaming Gel, $20.) That goes for SPF, too, which should be included in a daily routine. “Sun is thought to have an acute and chronic effect. It can be both an initial trigger, which aggravates rosacea in the short term, and also chronic sun damage is thought to be a promoter of rosacea in the long term.” (Try Reversa Urban Protection Hydrating Care SPF 30, $47.) A moisturizer is essential, especially in winter. “Rosacea-prone skin has been shown to have an impaired barrier function, it tends to be drier and more irritable,” she says. (Try Eau Thermale Avéne Tolérance Extréme Emulsion, $35.) Become label-savvy to choose one that sidesteps potentially aggravating ingredients such as urea, as well as glycolic and salicylic acids. Next, don’t miss a facialist’s top winter skin-saving solutions.