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Skin Series - Rosacea
The biggest causes of Rosacea - Stress, Diet, Hormonal Fluctuations, Medications, Environment and Products!
By Jennifer Flanagan

Rosacea is multifaceted! There are multiple factors that go into how rosacea forms on the skin. In this article we will go over the various contributing elements.

1. Stress - Emotional, Physical and Mental stress sets off a chemical cascade in the body that can and does affect the skin in deeply profound ways. We have seen our customers use the best routines possible with the best products and not have full success with their skin until they have addressed this aspect of their situation.

From an article on Web MD - "Psychodermatology is a field that addresses the impact of an individual's emotion as it relates to the skin," says Karen Mallin, PsyD, an instructor in the departments of psychiatry & behavioral sciences and dermatology & cutaneous surgery of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami." 

What the experts and studies are finding is that the mind has a direct connection to your skin via neurotransmitters and neuroimmunoendocrine circuitry. Looking into this factor with your skin can really help.
2. Diet - This is a factor that can often be overlooked. When someone's body has been overloaded by an irritant or food that the body is teetering on becoming sensitive to, this can cause an overload to the body that can push sensitivities over the edge for a number of health issues including rosacea. When a food causes inflammation in the body, this inflammation can equate to affecting skin as well. When this happens, flares of rosacea can be common. Some of the most common foods that seem to push the skin over the edge - Sugars - Wheat - Dairy - Carbs - and in some cases Soy. Of course, many of the fillers in pre-packaged foods as well. Really it depends on your own food sensitivities. Having a nutritionist do an allergy panel can really help.

3. Hormonal Fluctuations - This usually starts in the teenage years when puberty hits, but it can also happen later on with age related hormone changes (aka menopause) It can also happen after any other time hormones might shift. Like pregnancy, or intensely stressful situations. Having your hormones tested can help, though it won't always show whether your body in particular is sensitive to the hormones. It only shows if you are in a normal range like the rest of the planet (based on the labs values) This does not mean that your own particular body is not more sensitive than someone else might be with the same levels.

4. Medications - Medications can absolutely affect the body - hence the skin. This can increase sensitivity. There are many medications that cause the body/skin to be sensitive to the sun, so this can only add to the issue. This medicine induced sensitivity will cause the skin to be more sensitive to all other factors.

5. Environmental - Pollution, Wind, Sun and Water can and does affect the skin. Some are more sensitive to these factors than others, but those with rosacea will likely find themselves to be more sensitive to these than any other skin type. Drinking purified or Spring Water is better than tap water for you.

6. Illness - Being in a state of well being that is less than stellar really impacts our body, let alone our skin. If our immune systems are already in a compromised state, our skin will be too.

7. Smoking - This goes without saying. Smoking robs our body of oxygen which can really tax our oxygen supply to our skin too. This can make skin much more sensitive.

8. Product! - This is probably the most overlooked factor that contributes to Rosacea. When we use products on our skin, it absolutely has an effect on our skin. This is why we use it right? :) We accept that cleansers should clean, toners should tone, and calming serums should help calm the skin. The issue is that a lot of products on the market include harsh irritants or inflammatory ingredients. Even the ones that are for so called "sensitive" skin. It has always shocked me to read the ingredient lists of products geared for sensitive or rosacea skin.

Cleansers - that are too strong can cause skin to become dehydrated which over time can strip the skin of its natural oils, and cause inflammation and redness. This is generally from sudsy/stripping cleansers, but can also be from cleansers with solvents or other stripping agents in them like acids.

Toners - These often have alcohol, irritants, solvents or surfactants in them which will directly cause inflammation to the skin.

Exfoliating Acids - Glycolic, Salicylic, Mandelic, Lactic and more.. These will directly cause inflammation. They do have their place with normal skin but those that are sensitive already will find these to only cause further inflammation and redness. Many find with Rosacea prone skin that they cannot use manual exfoliation either.

Solvents - Alcohol, Pentylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol are a few examples. These will directly strip your skin of its natural oils and dehydrate your skin. This can cause inflammation and redness in those already sensitive.

Masks - These often have lots of stripping ingredients, or harsh ingredients.
Even clays can be a bit too much for Rosacea prone skin. Generally when dealing with Rosacea I suggest to avoid masks until the skin calms down and see how your skin does with them then.

Moisturizers - Moisturizers/Creams/Lotions almost always have waxes/waxy emulsifiers that when applied to the skin will seal in heat. (from sensitive rosacea prone skin) It can be hard to find a moisturizer that won’t do this. Makeup can often have these same waxes/emulsifiers. You can sometimes find these same types of ingredients in masks or serums as well. When we seal this heat in, it can make skin worse/more reactive.

Makeup - This factor may be the most overlooked in the product category. Makeup often has the same ingredients as serums/or moisturizers might have. Waxes, Waxy emulsifiers, fillers, harsh, stripping or irritating ingredients. This can cause inflammation to the skin which can lead to hyper-sensitivity to the skin.

As with acne and other skin conditions, many find that with Rosacea - skin care can only go so far, and other lifestyle aspects need to be addressed too.
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