I have been struggling with Rosacea for some time now and all the medication I could have whilst breastfeeding didn’t seem to do anything to help my symptoms, so when I stopped breastfeeding a couple of months ago I was eager to try some of the more powerful tablets to help manage my condition.
Rosacea is characterised by a wide range of skin symptoms, including: redness and swelling; flushing; the appearance of blood vessels through the skin on the face; thickening of the skin on the face; small elevated bumps called papules; and spots called pustules. I also experience eye symptoms, including bloodshot or dry eyes when I have a particularly bad flare up.
I was put on a course of antibiotics known as Tetracycline and was warned that they may make my skin more sensitive to the sun, but nothing prepared me for just how sensitive!
I have always joked that when the warm weather come around my skin turns pink, peels and then turns pink again so wearing a high SPF suncream is second nature to me and helps me tolerate the sun.
I continued to use my Factor 30 sunscreen on days out, but after driving to Birmingham with sun shining through the windows of the car during the journey my hands, especially my knuckles got badly burned. I upped my sunscreen to Factor 50 but any skin exposed to the sun burned to a crisp within minutes and my hands started to blister.
I went back to my GP, who’d never seen a reaction so severe, and who advised me to come straight back off the medication, especially as we are off to Turkey next month. Thankfully my face and chest have cleared within a few days but I am left with hands that are constantly stinging and look awful although the redness seems to finally be reducing.
It’s surprising how little is known about Rosacea, especially when you consider how common rosacea is says Dr Wayne Osborne. As he explains over at Treated.com, roughly 1 in 10 people in the UK are thought to be living with rosacea; so those who do have it certainly aren’t alone in having to take steps to manage it.
While what causes rosacea hasn’t been definitively answered, a number of triggers have been identified. These include prolonged exposure to sunlight, stress, alcohol (red wine in particular), hot drinks, caffeine, spicy food, and hot and cold weather conditions. Some people also experience episodes when they’re going through the menopause, or taking certain medication.
Obviously no two people are the same, and triggers tend to vary from person to person. But to reduce the risk of a flare-up (or, if your rosacea is active, limit the severity of symptoms), my advice would be to:
- Avoid intense or prolonged sun exposure. Don’t stay outdoors on sunny days for too long, and try to keep to the shade where possible. Sunscreen is recommended, but take care to choose a product which won’t cause further irritation (ideally one made with antioxidants). Sunbeds are a definite no-no.
- Limit your alcohol intake, as it can cause blood vessels in the face to dilate, causing redness and flushing. It’s definitely worth either taking some time off alcohol or reducing your intake during a flare-up, to see if it helps to improve symptoms.
- Take measures to limit stress by making sure you’re getting enough rest and sleep after a day’s work.
- Cover up on cold or windy days to avoid further skin irritation.
- Talk to your doctor if you think medication may be the cause. Corticosteroids and certain vitamins are thought to exacerbate rosacea symptoms in some. If you think these are making your condition worse, your GP may be to suggest an alternative
Prescription treatments can help in those cases where non-medicinal measures have not sufficed. Gels and Creams such as Rozex are available, as are tablets. Again, your doctor may be able to suggest a course, which is right for you.
So for now, I am back to cold turkey with no medication and waiting on an appointment to see a Dermatologist for more ideas on what treatment may work for me.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post with Treated.com