Adult Acne or Rosacea?
So you have irritable, red, itchy, hot, flaky, bumpy skin. It looks like adult acne and every single thing that touches it makes it react. Friends have started asking what has happened with your skin. You have always had ok skin….until now, well past your teenage years. So what is going on? Is it just a temporary hormonal spotty stage? Or do you have Rosacea with super sensitive skin?
Help! What do you do??
First and most importantly:
DO go and see your doctor. Get a proper diagnosis and treatment. You need to know whether your irritated sensitive skin with the arrival of adult acne is just that or if you really have Rosacea, because the way you care for each condition is very different. If you are using skin-care or treatments designed for acne YOU WILL MAKE YOUR SKIN WORSE if you actually have Rosacea. There is no cure for Rosacea but there are a number of topical and other treatments on prescription that can very quickly reduce the symptoms of Rosacea during a flare up.
Once you know what you are dealing with you now need to know how to look after your skin and keep flare-ups at bay without being permanently reliant on antibiotics or other drugs. This is where some simple natural skin care and lifestyle guidelines can help.
This article is about caring for your skin if you do have Rosacea.
How to care for irritable Rosacea-prone skin naturally:
HABITS AND LIFESTYLE
- DON’T touch your face!!
Really, I cannot stress enough. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE. Do not be tempted to pick, scratch, prod, squeeze, feel the bumps, any of it. Do not touch your face. You will just introduce bacteria, break the skin and create inflammation, and straight away you have another flare up that lasts several days (or sometimes weeks with Rosacea) while the body tries to fight the invasion.
- DO wear a wide-brimmed hat in the sun
Our Rosacea-prone skin is extremely sensitive to sunlight. Keep it protected with some shade.
- AVOID excessive heat
The heat brings the tiny capillaries in the skin closer to the surface, causing additional flushing and sensitivity in skin where the capillaries are already too close and too sensitive. So no saunas, keep shower and bath temperatures warm rather than hot, and avoid heavy cardiac exercise that makes you flush.
- DO change your pillows regularly
Bacteria, dead skin, mites and other microbes multiply quickly. These are all naturally present on all skin. However, imbalances in Rosacea-prone skin, as well as a compromised skin barrier make us more susceptible to infection and inflammation from any overgrowth. So to keep infection away, change your pillowcases regularly and wash them at a high temperature with a detergent suitable for sensitive skin. You should also replace your actual pillows every few months.
- DO keep a food trigger diary
It is thought that many skin issues may originate in the gut. Many people with Rosacea have different foods that trigger an outbreak. Common triggers include alcohol, spicy foods and hot drinks. These three are all foods that cause the tiny blood vessels in the skin to dilate, making the skin appear red. However, there are likely to be other foods that trigger an outbreak for you. As these are individual, you will start to see the patterns if you keep a food diary.
COSMETICS AND SKIN CARE
Ingredients to AVOID with Rosacea
There are some ingredients that may well be suitable for acne, but should be totally avoided with Rosacea. Rosacea is not acne and needs to be handled sensitively. You have very sensitive skin and it needs to be gently nurtured back to health, not beaten with a big harsh stick.
This is one of the major common triggers for Rosacea-prone skin. It is often the main component of toners, it will be present in most aerosol hair products, and is regularly used in many skin care products as a preservative, oil free cleanser or astringent. There are different groups of alcohols. The type that is bad for your skin strips it of its natural protection by breaking down the skin barrier, is drying and can be very irritating. Check the packaging before you buy. The higher up the ingredients list, the more there is in the product. These are the specific types of alcohol to avoid with Rosacea: Denatured alcohol (or Alcohol denat.), ethanol, ethyl alcohol, SD alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, methanol.
- SALICYLIC ACID
This is one of the most common ingredients in skincare and treatments for acne. It is effective at temporarily reducing the appearance of acne spots. However, it can also dry and thin the skin. This can make sensitive skin states worse, leaving it dry, red and peeling, while the thinning skin exposes capillaries further and makes sun sensitivities more acute. It can also be an irritant for many people with sensitive skin. Best avoided with Rosacea.
Did you know? If you are allergic to Salicylic Acid, did you know that it is also a natural component of Aloe Vera? Aloe Vera is often used specifically for its otherwise soothing properties in natural products for sensitive skin. It will be alright for some people, but can be an irritant if you are allergic to it.
- ROUGH EXFOLIATORS, CHEMICAL PEELS & RETINOLS
ALL of these are way too harsh for your sensitive skin if you are Rosacea-prone. Don’t make skin that is already thin, raw and unbalanced worse.
If you have dry flaky patches, did you know that simply washing with a facecloth exfoliates your skin? Be kind. Wipe firmly using warm water and a soft cloth after oil cleansing, but don’t scrub at sensitive skin.
Soap is extremely alkaline. While it has its uses, avoid using soap and astringent cleansers particularly when you have sensitive skin. Healthy skin has a natural slightly acidic film called the ‘acid mantle’ which acts as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants that might otherwise penetrate the skin. By using a very alkaline product, you are destroying the finely balanced acidity that is there to protect you and your skin. If your skin is dry, irritated and itchy, then it is likely that your skin acidity is out of whack. Don’t make it worse by using soap on your face.
Go fragrance-free if your skin is highly sensitised. Fragrance can be a wonderful thing, but there are too many chemicals and potential allergens wrapped up in that one word ‘Parfum’ on the back of pack. When your skin is this sensitive to so many ingredients, you are best to avoid it on your face as you don’t know what is in it.
What Ingredients to LOOK FOR with Rosacea
- Jojoba Seed Oil – a natural, non-allergenic, non-irritating oil that is incredibly gentle on the skin. It is very like our own natural healthy skin oil and creates a fine protective layer over the skin to prevent irritants from getting through. Use on its own to cleanse and protect very sensitive skin. A wonderful natural alternative to mineral oil that is also used as a barrier in skin care, but unlike mineral oil its structure is compatible with our own skin cell oils.
See more here:
- Meadowfoam Seed Oil – very similar to Jojoba Seed Oil. It does the same job, but some oily skin types that are also prone to acne may prefer this. It feels light weight while being protective and non-comedogenic (the scientific word for not blocking pores).
- Sea Buckthorn Fruit Oil – Nourishing and calming, Sea Buckthorn oil contains a high level of Flavonoids which are anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-allergic. It is also rich in another highly anti-inflammatory plant hormone called beta-sitosterol, making this oil very suitable for calming Rosacea prone skin. See more here:
- Bisabolol – you may see this on ingredients list and be scared off by its chemical sounding name. Don’t be. It is a naturally occurring active ingredient and is the main constituent of the Chamomile plant that makes it so soothing, calming and protecting. It is widely documented as having anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and non-allergenic properties. This is one chemical sounding name you want to find in your natural skin-care for sensitive skin.
For more ingredients to use and avoid, check out my Rosacea skincare blog here, or sign-up for updates on natural ways to help yourself with sensitive skin.
Lastly, you DO need to use Sunscreen to protect your skin, but look for these 2 active ingredients only: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Oxide. These both sit on the surface of the skin and reflect light away.
Other sunscreen active ingredients penetrate the deep layers of the skin and can be full of chemicals that have the potential to irritate. With skin that is already sensitive to many ingredients and has a compromised barrier, you are best to leave the sunscreen to do its work on the outer layer only.
All in all, keep it simple. For highly sensitised skin, look for as few ingredients as possible on the ingredients label.