Decoding Rosacea: Insights, Triggers, And Holistic Management Strategies

For many, the frustration of rosacea extends beyond the unpredictable cycle of redness. It's in the missed social outings for fear of unwanted attention, in the painstaking trial and error of finding skincare that doesn't aggravate an already delicate condition, and in the sinking feeling that accompanies the realisation that many well-meaning advice and quick fixes fall short. It's a condition that demands a nuanced understanding and a compassionate approach from those experiencing it and the professionals they turn to for help. 

Rosacea may be a part of your story, but it doesn't define it. Read on as we explore the intricate dance of Rosacea triggers, the crucial link between gut health and skin, and the gentle yet effective ways to reclaim your skin's narrative. 

What Is Rosacea?  

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition, marked by an overactive immune response and a notable link to gut health. Often misdiagnosed, it is characterised by periods of flare-ups and remissions, presenting symptoms such as facial redness, visible blood vessels, and sometimes, eye discomfort. It also tends to be more prevalent in women. With their English ancestry and exposure to harsh sun conditions, Australians find themselves particularly susceptible.  

What Is The Cause Of Rosacea? 

Rosacea is noted as an incredibly challenging and unpredictable skin condition to treat and requires a holistic approach with internal and external support. Most frustratingly, the exact cause of rosacea remains elusive, and there is currently no ‘cure’ to the condition. Current research tells us that Rosacea susceptibility is due to a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and internal health issues like gut dysbiosis.  

 There are four common types of rosacea: 

  1. Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea (ETR): Features flushing and persistent redness with visible blood vessels. 
  1. Papulopustular Rosacea (most common) Characterised by acne-like breakouts, making it often mistaken for acne. 
  1. Phymatous Rosacea: This thickens skin, particularly around the nose, resulting in a bumpy texture. 
  1. Ocular Rosacea: Irritates the eyes, redness, and swollen eyelids. 


How Our Internal Impacts Our External  

Words that make a Rosacea sufferer instantly shudder are “triggers” and “flare-ups”.   

A range of environmental and lifestyle factors can trigger rosacea flare-ups, including spicy foods, cinnamon, tomatoes, hot beverages, exposure to harsh sun rays, extreme temperatures, wind, stress, irritating skincare products, and, notably, alcohol consumption. Recognising and avoiding these food and non-food triggers is crucial in managing rosacea symptoms, offering a starting point for those seeking to minimise flare-ups. 

Our skin has a complex microbiome filled with microscopic organisms. One of these is a mite called Dermodex which can be found in the hair follicles and oil glands of our skin. Studies confirm that many rosacea sufferers have an overabundance of these little guys, yet whether this is the cause of rosacea or a result of it is still unknown. Dermatologists can prescribe topical treatment to reduce the dermodex population, which may help control flare ups in the short term.  

Emerging research is also showing a strong link between rosacea and gut health issues, such as celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Helicobacter pylori infection, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).  

Remarkably, addressing these gut conditions can significantly improve Rosacea symptoms, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach to treatment that includes evaluating and treating underlying gut health issues. 

A diverse gut microbiome strengthens the immune system and reduces inflammation, which is critical for those with rosacea. Foods like garlic, onion, leeks, mushrooms, and wheat nourish gut bacteria, promoting a balanced gut microbiome.  

While probiotics can benefit gut health, they may exacerbate rosacea symptoms in individuals sensitive to histamine. Professional guidance is essential when exploring probiotics as part of rosacea management. 

An anti-inflammatory diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fats has alleviated rosacea symptoms, including dry eyes. Furthermore, a low histamine diet may benefit some individuals with rosacea. However, such a diet should be navigated with the help of a specialist to avoid unnecessary restrictions and ensure gut health is not compromised. 

So, Is There Anything We Can Do About It? 

I get it. So far, this blog has been a bit of a downer regarding rosacea, but there is hope! Here are a series of strategies that can be implemented to manage flare-ups and minimise triggers.  

Firstly, consulting with healthcare professionals and naturopaths is crucial for long-term success in managing rosacea. They can guide you through addressing potential gut issues significantly affecting the condition's manifestation.  

Azelaic acid (such as Azclear 20% Medication Lotion found at your local chemist) is highly effective in managing redness and lesions for mild cases (allow 6-8 weeks to see results). It is crucial to incorporate it into a routine that respects and protects the skin barrier. For mild cases, here is a routine you can follow to support your skin.  

In the morning, I recommend skipping the cleanser and beginning with a soothing and strengthening serum like the Epicure Recovery Serum. followed by Epicure Soothing Hydrator and, as always, finished with a broad-spectrum sunscreen like Airyday Pretty in Zinc to protect sensitive skin from sun damage. 

In the evening, my go-to gentle cleanser recommendation is the Skin Juice Smudge Budge, with its soothing and moisturising ingredients to remove your daily face without stripping the skin. I recommend following with Epicure Oil Control Hydrator, followed by a layer of Azclear.   

Once rosacea symptoms are under control, carefully adding Vitamin A and C to your regimen can offer additional benefits, including improved skin texture and tone. However, these potent ingredients should be introduced slowly and under the guidance of a skincare professional to avoid exacerbating rosacea symptoms. 

Makeup is a trigger that Rosacea sufferers know all too well, but CC8 Cream by Issada is a fantastic alternative that offers light daily coverage and therapeutic benefits, helping to conceal redness while supporting skin health. Or for fuller coverage I love 1Skin Natural Fusion Treatment Foundation. Investments like these can support your skin throughout the day and boost your confidence, knowing you can apply makeup without running the risk of a flare-up later that day.  

As always, for personalised advice and individualised care for your skin, a skin consultation is an investment in your long-term skin health.  

Remember, you're not alone on this journey. Seeking guidance from medical professionals and dietitians can provide personalised support, helping you navigate the challenges of rosacea with informed compassionate care. 

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