Managing rosacea symptoms during winter

5 tips to minimize redness and flare-ups

TORONTO, ON, Jan 8, 2014/ Troy Media/ – If you suffer from rosacea then you know how frustrating it can be to handle. Stress from winter holiday travel, spicy food, and extreme temperature changes tend to worsen symptoms. Fortunately, you can mitigate the worst symptoms with the right preventive treatment and medications.

Rosacea (pronounced row-zay-sha) is a non-contagious chronic skin condition. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, two million Canadians suffer from rosacea; women are diagnosed three times more frequently than men.

Although it tends to affect those with fair skin, rosacea can develop in any skin type. Often associated with easy flushing and blushing, symptoms usually develop between the ages of 30 and 50 and tend to become more persistent and visible over time. Symptoms frequently cause psychological distress.

Rosacea is often misdiagnosed as adult acne. Mild rosacea symptoms include occasional facial flushing and redness and swelling, burning and stinging, roughness, and visible red blood vessels. Moderate rosacea involves persistent redness and pimple-like bumps (often mistaken for acne), as well as burning and stinging. Severe rosacea can develop into rhinophyma, characterized by thickened skin tissue on the nose, giving it an enlarged appearance.

More than half of those diagnosed with rosacea experience ocular (eye) symptoms that can include redness to the surrounding skin tissue, irritation, dryness, sensitivity, blurred vision, and the appearance of watery, bloodshot eyes.

The American National Rosacea Society advises that women with rosacea may require added therapy or medications during their cycle and throughout menopause. Many women report more flushing episodes and increased numbers of bumps and pimples during these times, according to Dr. Wilma Bergfeld, head of the clinical research section of the dermatology department at Cleveland Clinic and former president of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Managing rosacea symptoms over the winter holidays is challenging – even for those with mild symptoms. Here are some common symptom triggers and details for avoiding flare-ups:

1. Managing stress: Stress tends to be the most common factor in triggering rosacea symptoms. Getting enough sleep, exercise, and eating healthy meals can mitigate stress-related symptoms.

2. Fluctuating hot/cold air temperatures and wind: Overheated kitchens and outdoor winter activities in extreme cold both trigger symptoms. Try to regulate your temperature and stay cool indoors and cover exposed skin as much as possible while outdoors.

3. Holiday parties: Common culprits include hot or spicy foods, which can aggravate rosacea symptoms. Be careful about wearing cosmetic products without checking labels first; items containing perfume, alcohol and other irritating ingredients can aggravate skin flushing and other symptoms.

4. Increased alcohol consumption: Red wine seems to provoke flare-ups for many rosacea sufferers; limiting or skipping alcohol altogether may be necessary for some.

5. Hot beverages and soup: Hot chocolate, tea, coffee, and soup may be less likely to trigger symptoms if you allow these to cool before you consume them, since overheating the body can increase flushing.

Consistent habits and regular prescribed treatment use for rosacea tends to yield the best results over time. Although the added financial, social, and stress of the holiday season provoke anxiety for those with rosacea worried about flare-ups, proactively managing symptoms through lifestyle provides notable benefits.

Troy Media columnist Janna Stam writes a weekly column on Women’s Health.

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