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Health Topics

Rosacea is a non-contagious inflammatory skin condition where the nose, cheeks and/or the forehead seem to be permanently flushed as the surface capillaries of the skin enlarge.

The symptoms of rosacea may first appear in a person’s 20s but usuallty begins to appear between 30 and 50 years of age, initially with frequent flushing. The flushing becomes permanent and pustules begin to form. Women are more commonly affected but men will show the worst symptoms. This condition rarely affects children and is more common in fair skinned people. The symptoms tend to deteriorate with age. The cause is unknown and there is no permanent cure. In severe cases the nose can become reddened and enlarged.

The following symptoms are common: permanent pink flush across the nose, cheeks and forehead; lumps under the skin; frequent flushing and a burning or stinging feeling on the face; visible blood vessels under the skin; welts and acne or yellow-headed pimples.

There are mild eye symptoms in about half the cases. These include a feelingof something in the eye; burning, stinging or itchy eyes; dryness; sensitivity to light and eyelid problems such as cysts, styes or eyelid inflammation.

A Doctor must distinguish rosacea from other skin conditions including acne, lupus erythematosus, seborrhoeic dermatitis and perioral dermatitis. The treatment options depend on the severity of the condition and include cold packs to reduce inflammation and swelling; avoidance of triggers such as sunlight, alcohol and spicy foods, antibiotics such as tetracyclines; creams and gels (often containing the antibiotic metronidazole); diathermy (a small device that generates heat and is applied to the damaged blood vessels); laser surgery and sometimes surgery to treat a disfigured nose.

The herb milk thistle can be taken to help liver function and detoxification which in turn can help skin health. Chamomile tea infusion can be used as an anti-inflammatory face wash. A cool compress of lavender oil can reduce heat and swelling and vitamin B supplements can be taken as rosacea sufferers are often B vitamin deficient.

Foods that make you flush such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, iodised salt, hot drinks and spicy food should be avoided. Foods containing trans-fatty acids and saturated fats such as milk, ice cream, chocolate, milk products, margarine or synthetically hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods should also be avoided. Plenty of raw vegetables should be consumed as they contain enzymes that help with skin and circulatory health. Several glasses of fresh vegetable juice should be consumed daily and fibre rich foods such as vegetables, beans and whole grains should be eaten. It is also good to include cold-water fish and flaxseeds in the diet as they contain essential fatty acids which can reduce the inflammation.

Please ask the Staff at the Pharmacy who will be happy to help you with suitable advice, supplements and skin care products. Further information and advice is available on the website

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Kevin McCormack B.Sc. Pharm. MPSI