Am I Blushing?

By Dr. Valerie Tokarz

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That red, ruddy face that looks like permanent blushing on your fair-skinned friend, it’s a chronic skin condition called Rosacea. I realized I had signs of rosacea during medical school when my nose would turn bright red! How devastating! Anyone who is dealing with this condition (and there is a lot of us - more than 13 million Americans) can attest that it can be cause for emotional distress (trust me!). 

Often beginning with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people, Rosacea can spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead, chin, ears, chest, and back. With time, people who have Rosacea often see permanent redness in the center of their face. This flushing is primarily thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the blood vessels that supply skin on the face, with these vessels showing an increased tendency to dilate.

Often times, people can incorrectly assume someone with Rosacea has a “drinking” problem, and that the alcohol consumption is causing the excessive blushing. Not true!  Alcohol can be a trigger, but most of the problem is inherited (Blame your gene pool!).  

So how do we deal with Rosacea at Tokarz Dermatology?

1st: Avoid the Triggers!

  • SUN = Not Good! Wear daily sunscreen but only the physical kind also known as mineral sunscreen (Zinc, Titanium). UV rays can get through glass indoors, so you need to wear it all the time. Do NOT wear chemical sunscreens (Avobenzone, Neutrogena) as it can make rosacea worse. 

  • Stay away from hot drinks or foods (spicy foods, caffeine) as anything heating your core (exercise can also worsen Rosacea - so beware).

  • For some patients, certain types of alcohol can make the redness worse. For example, I have a love-hate relationship with red wine as it can make me look like Rudolph!

  • Avoid harsh creams and scrubs on your face. Instead, use products and moisturizers made for sensitive skin.

2nd: Treatments

  • Creams & Pills: Not enough space in a blog to detail all the medications, but there are many creams and pills that will help control the acne lesions associated with Rosacea. Your dermatologist can decide the best course of action for you, however, no pill or cream will help make the blood vessels completely go away.

  • Laser Treatment: Here’s where we can really make a difference in the redness! Rosacea specific lasers will shrink blood vessels in the face and significantly decrease the ruddy complexion AND make your blush less exuberant. Nothing lasts forever so you’ll need a few treatments to start and then will need to stick with a maintenance plan to maintain the results. If you have thickening skin, we have another laser for that too which will help smooth out the rough surface.  

Want to learn more about reducing the redness? Schedule a consultation with Dr Tokarz and we’ll make a plan to get your skin looking less ruddy and more healthy!    

Photos credits: American Academy of Dermatology and Lumenis

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