“R” is for rosacea.
“R” is for red, raw, ruddy, rosy, and frustrating rosacea.
Okay, frustrating doesn’t start with “R”, but for anyone suffering from rosacea, there is always a level of frustration that comes with it.
Rosacea, also known as acne rosacea is an inflammatory skin disorder that usually begins middle age or later. There is still no clear evidence of what causes this frustrating and embarrassing condition. It begins as flushing and redness on the central face and across the cheeks, nose, or forehead, but can also less commonly affect the chest, scalp, and ears.
It is thought rosacea is a disorder where the blood vessels become damaged when repeatedly dilated by a trigger. This causes the blood vessels in the affected areas to readily dilate and remain dilated for longer periods of time or permanently, resulting in flushing and redness.
Studies have shown up to 20% of women and 7% of men can struggle with this condition. Interestingly, I’m seeing an increase in women at my own clinic wanting support for this condition.
As a naturopath, it’s my job to investigate the possible underlying causes triggering this inflammatory condition, and then finding effective natural solutions to help treat the condition.
Here are some of the things I investigate when it comes to rosacea:
1. Gut health.
This is always number one when I look at any skin condition. I want to make sure there is optimal digestion and the gut is working appropriately. Something I do with my clients is getting them to do a Bowel Transit Test. It’s a very simple test and gives me some very important information.
Bowel Transit Test: Eat a few cobs of corn or a few teaspoons of sesame seeds. Don’t overly chew this (the only time I will say don’t chew your food) as we want to see it when it comes out the other end. After eating this, we then time when we see remnants of the corn or seed again. Ideally, we like to see it within 18 to 26 hours. If it’s quicker than this, you may not have enough time to absorb vital nutrients. If it’s slower than 26 hours, it can cause reabsorption of toxins and this can have a direct effect on skin health.
2. Food allergies.
This is a big one for rosacea. If you suffer from rosacea, have you noticed symptoms can get worse when you have a glass of wine or enjoy some cheese? The main food sensitivities I’ve seen associated with rosacea are dairy, gluten, high histamine foods like alcohol, and sugar.
There are different nasties that can be in your gut that could be contributing to the symptoms of rosacea. For example Helicobactor pylori a bacteria that can live in the stomach. It’s known to cause gastritis and stomach ulcers, but there is mounting research linking this with rosacea, in particular Papulopustular rosacea (PPR). This is where the immune cells and inflammation cause pustules and papules on the skin.
There are other infections like SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) that has been linked to skin conditions. This is where healthy bacteria from the large intestine move into the small intestine where it doesn’t belong and causes some havoc.
General dysbiosis is where the bacteria in the gut is out of balance and can cause a lot of inflammation throughout the body and be a trigger for skin inflammation.
Rosacea tends to get worse with stress. Utilising stress-reducing techniques like meditation and hypnosis can be effective along with nutritional and herbal medicine support for the nervous system.
The first powerful tool I use for skin problems is zinc. It’s the hero for skin healing and repair. It helps heal the damage from rosacea and reduces the redness and inflammation. It has other amazing benefits like healing the gut and making digestive enzymes.
6. Vitamin C.
This is the next tool in my kit for skin health. It’s a powerful antioxidant and it helps reduce inflammation. It’s also necessary for helping rebuild collagen and improving the immune system.
7. Powerful antioxidants.
Other powerful antioxidants like Lutein and Zeaxanthin found in the marigold flower and Kakadu plum are powerful free radical destroyers. They help protect the body and skin from the damage caused by these toxic chemicals.