Putting My Rosacea into Remission
Rosacea, not a condition I had any knowledge of until about three years ago when I was diagnosed with it. And determined to find a cure I’ve had quite a journey since. I’ve been through an NHS dermatologist, tried antibiotics and every possible topical application on the market and been miserably disappointed with most of them.
Let’s start by stating I’m not a dermatologist or a nutritionist, just a rosacea sufferer who found a solution that worked. And this is my experience of how I successfully manage it. It may not be answer for everyone, but I’m sure they’ll be elements that will certainly help or at least give comfort that it can be managed with a little dedication and effort.
Firstly, what is rosacea?
Rosacea’s a very common but poorly understood chronic inflammatory skin disorder, mainly affecting the face. As many as eight million people in the UK suffer, with a suggestion that as much as 1 in 10 have some signs of rosacea. More common in women than in men, and with a fair skin who flush easily. Most cases are first diagnosed in people aged 30 to 50. And there is no specific test for rosacea, but a dermatologist will usually make a diagnosis by examining the affected skin.
Changes to the physical appearance that occur as a result of the condition can have a significant psychological and social impact. It affects how a person feels about themselves and how they interact with others. It can completely zap confidence and find yourself avoiding social situations.
Signs of rosacea include:
- Flushing – facial blushing, redness in the cheeks, nose, chin,
- Burning and stinging sensations
- Permanent redness
- Spots (papules and pustules)
- Small blood vessels in the skin becoming visible (broken vessels)
What causes rosacea?
The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, it’s been suggested abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face and a reaction to microscopic mites commonly found on the face are responsible, but I’m not convinced by either of those. Personally I believe it’s linked to diet, eating foods that irritates the gut and consequences show up in your skin… More and more evidence is supporting this theory.
Triggers that may make rosacea worse, include:
- Exposure to sunlight
- Strenuous exercise
- Strenuous exercise
- Hot or cold weather
- Hot drinks
- Alcohol and caffeine
- Certain foods, such as spicy foods
Traditional methods of treatment:
For most people, the first port of call for treatment will involve a combination of self-help measures and medication, such as:
- Avoiding known triggers – for example, avoiding drinks containing alcohol or caffeine
- Creams and gels – medications applied directly to the skin to reduce spots and redness
- Oral medications – tablets or capsules that can help clear up more severe spots, such as oral antibiotics
I tried all of the above, taking antibiotics and the medicated creams made my skin worse! Avoiding triggers certainly helps but I believe that’s because it’s linked to gut irritation and inflammation. You need to identify your triggers to avoid them, mine are sugar, alcohol and gluten.
My Rosacea Solution.
I would’ve liked to have shared some really powerful before and after shots, but frustratingly I destroyed all photos highlighting my skin at it’s worse. Convinced there was no cure I couldn’t look at photos of my face! But I found this grainy one (poor quality, sorry) hiding on my lap-top. I remember taking it, I was due to have a Skype call later that day and wanted to see how my skin would look…. Terrible!
I’ve no make-up on in both shots (except a little mascara) but it really does highlight the difference. The flushing damaged capillaries on my cheeks, resulting in a permanent ruddy complexion and that’s clearly viable in the before photo and repaired in the after shot (taken two weeks after my most recent IPL treatment)
Right, how did I go from “before” to “after”?
First stop on my journey; the doctor who referred me to a NHS dermatologist… what a waste of time! I’m sure there’s great NHS dermatologists out there but the one at Hereford General was useless, she truly was. I felt rushed, told there was no cure and to visit the Clinque counter to cover it! She also prescribed a course of oral and topical antibiotics, which only made it worse, dried my skin out and made me physically sick. I did enquired if there was any non NHS treatments I could investigate but was fobbed off with “that’s not something I’d know about” as I was hurried out the door… useless!
Second stop, topical skin-care, I’ve tried every specialist skin care range advertised as a rosacea treatment, not cheap! And found zero benefits, certainly for clearing up the initial condition. Once it’s under-control there’s definitely great products to keep the complexion in top condition but I’ll go into that later.
IPL (Intense Pulse Light)
Fast forwarding 18mths, verging on depression with my condition getting worse and frantic googling, I found Pulse Light Clinic based in Fenchurch Street in London who offer IPL (laser) treatment for rosacea. Testament to how desperate I was I live in South Wales but took the 3hr train trip for a consultation and BOY AM I GLAD I DID…. I met Lucy who looked at my skin and confidently stated “We can help clear that up”, I can’t tell you how good it felt to hear those words. A patch later and I’m committing to taking a 3hr train journey every three weeks for six sessions of IPL treatment. This isn’t a cheap treatment but for me it was worth it, they restored my complexion and in the long-term when you look at how much you spend on products that don’t work it’s a sound investment. Pulse Light Clinic also work with you on nutrition as the best results involve a combination of laser treatment and change to your diet…
If the gut is inflamed it can result in chronic skin problems such as rosacea, as highlighted in our article on “How your diet can show up in your face “. I was eating far too much sugar and gluten which was causing candida, triggering my rosacea (there’s simple test to see if you’re suffering from candida, here’s how: click here). So, I removed both from diet, along with dairy. Introduced good bacteria to my gut in the form of daily probiotic capsule to help combat the candida, along with supplements to help maintain a healthy diet. All done with Lisa Borg Pulse Lights nutritionist.
Topical lotions didn’t clear my rosacea, but is an important element of after care maintainance once laser treatment had done it work. Look for skin-care with natural ingredients. I use Claudia Fallah “Intensive Repair Creme” directly after a laser session when my skins sore or whenever my skin’s stressed. But for everyday I love “Nurture Replenish” day and night creams. Cleanser I use Claudia Fallah ‘Azulene Foam Active‘ It’s really gentle and leaves the skin feeling refreshed. I wear a high factor sun-screen every day without fail, my choice is a Clinque City Block SPF 40.
So, summarising here’s my tips to keeping rosacea in remission:
- Laser Treatment with Pulse Light Clinic (maintenance session every 3/4mths)
- Removed sugar and gluten from my diet – Visit a nutritionist to identify your triggers
- Introduced good bacteria with a probiotic capsule (50 million)
- Drink a cup of hot water in the morning before anything else (helps the digestion fire up)
- Drink Foever Living Aloe Vera Gel every morning – Great for healing the gut
- Daily supplements – Personally tailored by Healthspan
- Healthy diet, no processed foods
- Juice at least 4 days a week: 80/20 vegetables to fruit (lots of recipes on our blog)
- Restrict wine/alcohol consumption (still drink a couple of times a week in moderation)
- Drink 8 glasses of water per day
- Use good quality skin care specifically designed for rosacea prone skin such as Cluadia Fallah
- Wear a high factor sun-screen
As I first stated it requires a lot of dedication, but if you’re prepared to put the effort in rosacea can be managed. I regularly fall off the wagon, but hey life’s about balance and the odd cake!
Celebrities with rosacea:
If you suffer from rosacea you’re in great company, these high-profile actresses all have and successfully manage rosacea – Since makeup can only cover so much, it’s safe to assume that some of these A-listers turned to lasers to trade redness for smooth, clear, red carpet-ready skin.
Please contact me if you’d like to know more about my treatment or any of the above, I’d be delighted to offer support. And if you visit the Pulse Light Clinic website you might just see me, looking a little red whilst having a treatment!