Let’s just put it out there: rosacea is a notoriously tough thing to treat. If you have rosacea, it means the capillaries and vessels in your skin are too close to the surface, making your skin over-reactive to its environment. Your immune system kicks into overdrive, and when it’s mild and acting up just a little you might just look flushed, but at its worst the vessels become hyperactive, and can cause painful and swollen skin that’s dry, rough, and itchy, as well as sensitive, itchy skin around the eyes and other uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms.
It takes serious exploration and experimenting to see what your skin reacts to and some people never actually manage to identify their triggers. (I’ve managed to link the emergence dry, rough patches on my face, as well as itchy eyes, to episodes of shitty eating, or extreme temperatures.) When talking about treatments, the one thing that most people seem to agree on is that you need to work on creating a strong barrier layer, aka the layer that protects your skin from trans-epidermal water loss, or dehydration. A strong barrier normalizes the immune function of the skin and will help skin cells to maintain their integrity (aka hold their spherical shape), all of which ultimately will decrease inflammation and the symptoms of rosacea. I spoke with Dr Kiran Sethi of Isya Aesthetics about the things that’ve worked for me, and other doctor-sanctioned ways to rid yourself of rosacea, hopefully for good.
ON YOUR SKIN
In a nutshell: find the simplest, gentlest products you can. A lot of products are formulated with irritants that are particularly troublesome for rosacea sufferers, even in some that claim to be specially formulated for sensitive skin. Truthfully, it will take some trying and some hits and misses before you find the arsenal of things that work for you. Some basics that tend to apply to most: keep a watchful eye for fragrance (look for ‘fragrance’ on ingredient lists) which is a known irritant, and don’t use chemical sunblock, go mineral instead (I use Coola’s cucumber sunblock and it is pretty great, even in really warm and muggy weather).
You do also need to exfoliate without aggravating your face, in that you’re aiming to prevent any ‘plaque’ buildup, but you don’t want to piss it off and have a flare-up. I moisturize liberally and often, and ditto with exfoliation.
Sethi also advises getting an ice roller. You can buy them on Amazon, while this isn’t one of those ‘use it be dazzled instantly’ products, you’ll see cumulative effects with regular use. Daily rolling will eventually help tighten and soothe skin, and it will definitely help anyone with rosacea, acne, or just puffy or blotchy skin. I’ve ordered mine and will also be keeping it on standby for hangover-face.
IN YOUR KITCHEN
Put simply, there is no magic bullet or potion in a bottle that will solve everything. Your diet influences your endocrine function, which hugely influences the state of your skin. If your rosacea’s really bad you might want to consider cutting vasoactive substances of your diet, aka things that cause your blood vessels to dilate, like caffeine, booze, spicy foods, and anything histaminic, like cheese, or red wine... if you have rosacea some of these could be a trigger. The thing is, they also might not, so you will have to work out what’s triggering yours on your own (sorry).
In the Ayurvedic tradition, rosacea is considered an indication of the pitta dosha being out of balance, and a sign that the sufferer has a lot of ‘heat’ in their body. Rosacea, redness, broken capillaries, eczema and rashes are all pitta complexion issues, and any ayurvedic remedy to soothe these involves bringing down that heat and fire with multi-pronged cooling remedies: gentle cleansing of the skin, foods like cool yoghurt and aloe vera, the addition of turmeric and coconut oil for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties (topically as well as ingested). Plus, as above, to avoid things that are too stimulating, like ginger, a known vasoactive that dilates the capillaries and increases blood flow, resulting in that redness.
It is also worth thinking about the quality of oil you’re eating and cooking with, and making the swap from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory, because this plays a direct role in the oil your sebaceous glands are producing. Don’t obsess about the perfect diet, but do think about what your skin needs to be strong and healthy, and what foods might help support this goal. What’s disrupting your hormones? Are you super-greasy or super-dry? You can tweak what you eat to address that. The skin is complex and has its own ecosystem, so think of it as both supporting your insides while pairing this with topical support on the outside.
If your rosacea’s really bad, and if your budget allows it, consider seeing a dermatologist. The condition often worsens with time, and with time those dilated blood vessels stay dilated, creating a permanent flush, so treating it early can prevent this progression.
Sethi said that your dermatologist is likely to prescribe some topical products that will limit some of the inflammation, but the most effective treatment is laser therapy and treatments that actually boost collagen formation in the skin. “Think of it like this,” she told me, “we want treatments that will increase the collagen to the point that it actually smushes the blood vessels back down; we want that collagen really packed in to tone the skin so those blood vessels don’t have the room to dilate.” You’ll see some improvement in just one session, but you will need a course to really let the rebuilding begin, and for the vessels and cells to change.
Dermatologists will often prescribe courses of photo facials, she said, which are a little bit more affordable than the lasers, but you need a lot more of them and the effects are temporary, so you will need to keep doing them. At Isya, she recommends the Clearlift 4D; “Four sessions will really calm down even bad rosacea, and you’ll see an immediate difference in your skin.”
Is it cheap? Nope. A Clearlift 4D session is priced at Rs 21,000, so it is s p e n d y, but if money’s no object, it really will do wonderful things for your skin. There’s no downtime, no pain, no redness… you will, however, see an immediate improvement in your skin that is quite dazzling. The entire thing takes about half an hour and unlike a regular facial which takes time to ‘settle’, you’ll walk out with your skin looking distinctly better than when you walked in. You cannot, however, be in direct sunlight for 72 hours after, so if you’re planning to sit out on a beach somewhere, maybe don’t.
Isya Aesthetics is at E12/7 Vasant Vihar, Delhi. For more information or to book a consultation, call 96673-77709 or visit their website.
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