Seeing Red

veggiesIf you suffer from the dreaded flush and blush you are not alone. Approximately 1 in 20 people suffer from chronic facial reddening, a condition that is clinically diagnosed by the name rosacea.

Rosacea is a chronic redness that is characterised by small red bumps that typically develop across the cheeks and nose but may also appear on the chin, forehead and neck. Rosacea usually begins with intermittent flushing and enlargement of the blood vessels across the nose and cheeks. Early warning signs that you may be developing rosacea include excessive blushing after sun exposure & environmental elements such as a cold and wind. Your skin may become flushed in stressful situations, after certain foods or even after drinking the odd glass of wine. These may all be early signs that you are at the early stages of rosacea. If left untreated, the flushing becomes more frequent over time until eventually your skin becomes permanently red and inflamed.

Causes and Treatment

There are many scientific research links between rosacea and poor digestion, hormonal imbalances and the overgrowth of the skin mite Demodex folliculorum. The most telling research in my opinion points to low stomach acid as the main contributing factor. This in turn leads to poor digestion and absorption of nutrients, particularly water soluble vitamins such as vitamin B and vitamin C.

The best way to treat rosacea is through a holistic approach, by treating internal digestive issues and nutritional deficiencies via diet and by using the right topical skincare that with soothe and strengthen your skin.

My top tips to perfect your skin

  1. Less is best with skincare. Rosacea or facial redness can be triggered by different ingredients on different skins so there is no one size fits all approach when dealing with facial redness. Knowing what your skincare triggers are will really help to keep flare ups under control. Many rosacea suffers find their condition worsens from too much stimulation to the skin so keep your skincare routine as simple as possible. Use a gentle cleanser and moisturise with a lightweight calming lotion. Abrasive exfoliants and rich creams, perfumed products or heavy oil based products can provoke flare ups on many skins so these are best avoided.
  2. Look for calming, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients to help to reduce redness and strengthen the capillaries such as raspberry extract, goji berries, cucumber and Canadian Willowherb. Also look to use products daily that contain vitamin B3, vitamin C and antioxidants to reduce redness.
  3. Avoid eating too many of the following foods – red meat, garlic, onions, spicy foods, high sugar foods, alcohol and coffee. These will further aggravate the inflammatory response in the gut and skin and can aggravate facial flushing.
  4. Eat foods that are cooling and gentle on digestion such as cucumber, apples, pears, lettuce and soups. Include natural sugar free yogurt and take a gut flora supplement to rebalance gut flora. This in turn aids with strengthening the immune system, vital for keeping inflammation at bay.
  5. Top up your vitamins. If you have digestive issues or you are not absorbing your vitamins, particularly vitamins B and C this can show as redness in the skin.

Vitamin B deficiency may be linked to redness across the cheeks and the area between the nose and mouth. Vitamin B is required on a daily basis for general health, cell metabolism and a healthy nervous system. Chronic stress, poor diet and certain medications such as the contraceptive pill can increase the body’s requirements for vitamin B. Foods rich in vitamin B include whole grains, egg yolks, broccoli, nuts, green leafy vegetables, avocados and spirulina.

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to dilated and weakened capillaries across the nose and cheeks. Cigarette smoking, alcohol, coffee and a poor diet will aggravate the condition and further increase your requirements for Vitamin C.

Seek Expert Advice

Many suffers of the dreaded “flush and blush” have been found to suffer from some conditions that may look similar to rosacea such as adult acne, dermatitis, lupus, latrogenic rosacea (topical steroid induced) and vitamin B3 and vitamin C deficiencies. For this reason careful professional analysis of the skin, diet and lifestyle is essential to determine the exact causes and treatment for red or inflamed skin. For expert advice visit a professional skin care expert and a nutritionist or naturopath to treat both the external redness and underlying gut imbalances.

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