Rosacea... Symptoms, Causes and Natural Treatments for glowing skin!

Rosacea. Many people complain of it, but just as many know relatively nothing about it.

Understandable as the symptoms are diffuse and while some notice signs on a constant basis, for others they may come and go, sometimes depending on various things including mood, what they’ve eaten, on stress…

Symptoms, as well as the actual cause, are highly individual, meaning individualized treatment is required. Traditional medicine often prescribes antibiotics, but unless the root cause is determined, an actual solution for the problem cannot be achieved, and the symptoms will just return once the medications are completed. Naturopaths tend to have great success in treating rosacea as we probe to determine what each individual’s personal triggers are and then prescribe specific treatments for that, thus removing the trigger, optimizing healing and therefore helping achieve long-term resolution and improved overall skin health.

It helps to have a good idea of what is actually going on with your skin:

Rosacea is a relatively common inflammatory skin disorder that mainly afflicts adults between the ages of thirty and fifty. Women appear to be affected nearly three times as often as men. And though many do not even realize they have it, it is estimated that between 60-75% of people may suffer from some degree of rosacea at some point in their lives, though it is frequently either undiagnosed or ignored.

Symptoms: Not only do the symptoms of Rosacea tend to wax and wane for the majority of individuals, they are often different for each sufferer. Common ones include:

  • Rosacea typically develops over the nose and cheeks and can occasionally extend to the neck, ears, chest, back and eyes.

  • Redness and inflammation that can look a bit like a sunburn

  • Swelling of affected areas, particularly the nose

  • Broken capillaries, especially on and around the nose and cheeks

  • Acne-like pimples (resemble teenage acne)

  • Roughening of the skin

The exact Causes of Rosacea are different for everyone, but there are many factors that are known to be related:

  • The most convincing evidence links it to the presence of food sensitivities/allergies.

  • Digestive imbalance (altered flora, malabsorption, IBS/IBD, etc) is also presumed to be a factor.

  • Alcohol consumption, especially large amounts over long periods of time, is a known risk for developing inflamed, reddened and swollen tissue, especially on and around the nose.

  • Sun exposure to the sun can increase the problem, especially in more fair-skinned individuals.

  • Elevated stress, physical and emotional, can make flare-ups more frequent and severe in many sufferers.

  • Menopause and hormonal imbalance/changes are a factor in many people

  • Genetics may be a factor, meaning if your parents or other family members have it, you may be at increased risk.

  • Reactions to environmental factors (like smoke, exhaust, etc) also appear to play a role in some individuals. Additionally, some sensitive individuals may experience reactions to certain soaps, creams and/or cosmetic products.

Traditional treatment: Usually focuses on relieving sympoms rather than treating the cause. Depending on the doctor, treatment may include oral or topical medications, antibiotics (commonly Tetracycline), Accutane®, or sometimes even surgery for severe or permanent symptoms. It's unclear precisely how medications help to reduce rosacea, but in some cases it is of some help while in some other cases it seems to have little effect.

Naturopathic treatment: An effort to remedy the two factors most closely connected with the development of rosacea and to make some modifications in the diet. For many patients, these measures will completely clear up their symptoms.

  • Identification & Elimination of Food Sensitivities: If there are known/a history of food allergies (now or in childhood), it could be a strong causative factor. Many people find that once they test for and eliminate the offending foods, their rosacea disappears.

  • Food Sensitivity testing is done by many Naturopaths.

  • Yeast Avoidance/Candida Diet: An allergy to yeast is a common allergenic cause and eliminating yeast from the diet can help such cases.

  • Testing for yeast can be done either as part of a food sensitivity panel or separately.

  • Avoidance of Irritating Foods: Certain foods are also known to instigate the development of rosacea, or at least make symptoms like redness and swelling worse.

  • These foods increase symptoms by causing blood vessels to dilate

  • Irritating foods include coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, and any other foods that cause a flush.

  • Treatment for Low/Weak Stomach Acid: There is a strong link between hypochlorhydria (reduced stomach acid output) and rosacea.

  • Hypochlorhydria sometimes occurs as a the result of stress, worry, or depression, but some people have a natural reduction in gastric juices, particularly with increased age.

  • The thought is that this reduction in digestive juices may:

  • a) Allow more toxic substances into the system and thereby contribute to rosacea, and/or

  • b) Create a generalized inflammatory response that is expressed most noticeably on the face.

  • As a note, many of the people diagnosed with hypochlorhydria also suffer from constipation and brittle fingernails and hair.

  • Heal the Gut (Digestive System): Imbalance in flora (good bacteria), poor nutrient and essential fatty acid (EFA) balance and malabsorption can all play a role in inflammation which, as previously noted, is a key factor in rosacea.

  • Supplements and herbs can be prescribed which will sooth, heal and help rebalance thus soothing symptoms and improving skin appearance and health.

  • Individuals with malabsorption are frequently deficient in many nutrients, particularly EFAs, vitamins (especially B12) and minerals all of which are required for appropriate digestion and overall health.

  • Hormonal Balancing: If rosacea symptoms are directly related to menopause, PMS or other hormonal changes/imbalances, this can be treated with botanical/herbal remedies, supplements and/or acupuncture.

  • Once appropriate hormone balance is achieved, symptoms will frequently fade and disappear.

  • Acupuncture: Any imbalance in the Qi it will show itself on the surface of the body, meaning the skin, and common symptoms can range from redness and rosacea to pallor, acne and lines and eczema. Facial acupuncture in conjunction with body points can help to calm and rebalance the Qi, thus reducing the inflammation and redness that go along with rosacea.

  • Stress reduction

  • Yoga, meditation, warm (not hot!) baths or going for a relaxing walk on a regular basis can be extremely helpful for reducing anxiety or constant worry, which can help improve not only symptoms of rosacea, but also a multitude of other problems that may be plaguing you!

If you or anyone you care about is suffering with rosacea and is seeking treatment, I urge you to seek out Naturopathic care. NDs have the skill and means to help find the root cause and then help alleviate symptoms permanently, thus allowing you to show off your gorgeous skin every day!

In health,

Dr Katarine Holewa, ND

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