Red cheeks, burning, pimples... it’s rosacea

The condition affects pale-skinned women the most but is more serious in men

CARMEN BARREIRO

A few days ago, singer Dani Martín posted a photo on his social media accounts showing his face with the redness and lesions of rosacea.

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition which affects millions of people all over the world and which, although not serious, is considered to be one of the dermatological pathologies that most affects patients' quality of life due to its psychological implications.

"I always dread the spring because it's a season when my rosacea goes at full throttle," the former member of El Canto del Loco wrote, as part of his efforts to give visibility to an illness which he has always disliked having but with which he has had to learn to coexist.

"It's hard for the patients, they may even feel ashamed, especially when their skin flakes and they get pimples similar to acne. It is an inflammation of the skin of unknown origin and there is still no cure for it, but it can be kept at bay with the right treatments," says dermatologist Paloma Borregón, the medical director of Clínica Kalosia in Madrid.

These are the key points about an illness which mainly affects pale-skinned women aged between 30 and 50.

Symptoms

Redness, flaking, burning, pimples, swollen nose in men...and embarrassment

Rosacea normally affects the central part of the face and the most common symptoms are red cheeks, couperose (tiny veins which resemble a spider web), a burning feeling and also pimples (hyperactivity of the sebaceous glands) and flaking skin.

"In men, the symptoms are normally more serious and it commonly causes a swelling of the nose and some parts of the face," says Dr Montserrat Salleras, a member of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV) and the medical director of Clínica Salleras in Barcelona.

Although it is not a serious condition from a health point of view, the psychological effect is very important.

"First because it affects the face, which is a part of the body that can't be hidden, and second because historically a red face is associated with excessive alcohol consumption," she says.

Triggers

Genetics, stress, change of temperature, alcohol, spicy food...

Although it is not known exactly what causes rosacea, there are a series of triggers that aggravate the symptoms and it is best to try to avoid.

"Sudden changes of temperature, any external source of heat (fire, heating, intense exposure to the sun), periods of stress, very hot or spicy food, alcohol, and even taking exercise," says Dr Borregón.

Treatments

Retinoids, antibiotics, anti-parasitics and lasers

The treatment for rosacea basically focuses on controlling the symptoms, and it varies depending on the severity.

"They range from creams with retinoids for the mildest cases, to oral medication (antibiotics, anti-parasitics) for more severe outbreaks,"says Dr Borregón. The laser treatment is used to reduce redness.

Basic skin care

Constant hydration, gentle cleansing and specific cosmetics

People with rosacea have to pay special attention to their daily skin care. "The cleansing routine should be carried out with cleansing milks, micellar or thermal waters, or cleansing creams and not skin toners, products containing alcohol or in the form of gel or soap.

In general, all cleansing products which have to be rinsed off tend to dry out the skin and that is especially harmful for patients with rosacea," say experts at the Pedro Jaén dermatology clinic.

It is also important that the cosmetics they use are specifically for sensitive skin.

"The patients have to study the products carefully to make sure they contain as few preservatives as possible and don't have alcohol or perfumes in them," they say.

Something else recommended by dermatologists to improve the appearance of rosacea is to keep the skin well hydrated, especially when out in the open air.

One question that patients frequently ask is whether or not they should wear makeup if they have rosacea.

"Yes, they can, with no problem. There are makeup bases which cover the redness and veins well without making the skin look artificial or stiff.

Many of these products contain green pigments to neutralise the redness. However, what is really important in these cases is to remove the makeup properly at night," say the dermatologists at the Pedro Jaén clinic.