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If, like millions of others, you’ve been diagnosed with suffering from rosacea, you’re not alone. In the UK, it’s estimated that as many as one in 10 people suffer from the chronic inflammatory condition that can cause the face to flush (AKA erythema) and flare up, particularly around the cheeks, forehead, chin and nose. Although not everyone experiences all its symptoms, it can also cause the skin to become red and sore to touch, visible blood vessels and broken capillaries, bumpy spots and pus-filled pustules (the latter is often called acne rosacea).

What causes it?

While no one factor has been proven to cause rosacea, it has been connected to genetics, environmental concerns, bacteria in the gut and the immune system. Experts believe that these factors can cause abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face, causing them to enlarge. Sun damage has also been linked to the dilation of blood vessels, and a weakened skin barrier is believed to encourage irritants to enter the skin and free radical damage, which can intensify inflammation and increase blood flow to the surface of the skin. Alcohol, stress, spicy foods, exercise, hot drinks and extreme temperatures can also encourage flare-ups.

Rosacea and sensitive skin

You’ll often find that rosacea and sensitive skin go hand in hand, and people who suffer from rosacea usually have sensitive skin, too. That’s perhaps not surprising though as more and more people consider themselves to have sensitive skin (at least 52%, according to a recent European study).

There’s not one but several types of sensitive skin, too. As the skin is a reactive mechanism that can be affected by a variety of internal and external factors, all skin can have some degree of sensitivity. How serious the reaction is determines how sensitive it is.

Healthy skin is tasked with acting as a protective barrier from external aggressors such as the sun and pollution. Sensitive skin occurs when this function is weakened and free radicals can penetrate the skin. As the facial epidermis is more delicate than other parts of the body, you’ll often find that the face is most affected. It is also usually the most exposed to potential triggers. These can include environmental damage, stress, chlorine, changing temperatures, dehydration and dry skin.

Sensitive skin shares many of the same symptoms as rosacea and other dry skin conditions. You may suffer from blotchy skin, flaking, skin feeling sensitive to touch, tight and uncomfortable, dry during winter and when taking flights, itchy and, like with rosacea, it flushes easily after a hot shower, a spicy meal or drinking alcohol.

How to keep your skin healthy

So, what’s the best rosacea treatment? Unfortunately, there’s no cure for rosacea, but various measures can help to relieve your symptoms. When exposed to the elements, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor and protect your face with a scarf during the colder months. Avoid food and drinks that may trigger flare-ups including alcohol and spicy dishes and facial products that contain alcohol and may irritate.

Skincare can exacerbate any skin condition so it’s important to use the right routine. Gently cleansing skin daily can help to maintain the skin’s natural balance, while treating sore skin with a moisturiser can trap in water and leave it feeling more comfortable. Keeping skin hydrated also helps to maximise its barrier function and reduce its sensitivity.

If you suspect you may suffer from rosacea, please consult the doctor for an expert opinion don’t just rely on self-evaluation. Click here to learn more about our moisturisers and products for sensitive skin.

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