We’ve all seen people with bulbous, red noses and put their appearance down to too much drink. But those tell-tale signs – known as rosacea (and pronounced roh-ZAY-sha) – are in fact nothing of the sort.
Contrary to popular belief, rosacea, a skin condition that affects 1 in 10 people in the UK, isn’t caused by drinking a bottle of wine very night.
It doesn’t only affect women over 60 and nor is it only characterised by redness or swollen veins.
Dr. Stefanie Williams, Dermatologist and Medical Director of Eudelo debunks the myths surrounding rosacea.
Myth 1: Rosacea is caused by excessive alcohol consumption
Although the exact cause is unknown, rosacea is a chronic skin condition linked to a genetic predisposition for rosacea. Alcohol, in particular red wine, does not cause rosacea, but it may trigger flare-ups in pre-existing rosacea.
Myth 2: Poor hygiene causes rosacea
Rosacea has nothing to do with hygiene. Rosacea is a caused by a genetic predisposition for rosacea. However, certain environmental and lifestyle triggers such as overloading the skin with too heavy moisturisers may trigger a flare-up. Using irritating skincare may cause rosacea skin to sting and potentially flare up.
Myth 3: You shouldn't drink coffee
Hot drinks including coffee may cause facial flushing and with this potentially a rosacea flare-up (in some patients, not all!) However, it’s more the heat rather than the caffeine. If this is a problem for the individual patient, then think about avoiding hot drinks in general.
Myth 4: Spicy food causes rosacea
Rosacea is caused by a genetic predisposition for the disease. Spicy food does not cause rosacea, but it may trigger flushing or a flare-ups in pre-existing rosacea.
Myth 5: Rosacea equals red skin
Rosacea might start with flushing or fixed redness (vascular rosacea). However other very common symptoms are breakouts with red bumps and pus-filled spots that may look similar to acne (‘inflammatory rosacea’). Additionally, there might be eye symptoms such as irritation or inflamed eyelids and/or a thickening of the nose skin (‘rhinophyma’).
Myth 6: Laser is the only treatment for rosacea that actually works
While laser or IPL treatments are a good treatment option for vascular rosacea (redness and broken vessels), inflammatory lesions such as spots, bumps and pimples need a different treatment. In fact, if you have any inflammatory lesions, you shouldn’t even have laser or IPL at that point (they first these have to be cleared.) Treatment options for inflammatory lesions include prescription creams or tablets like antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or vitamin A derivatives.
Myth 7: Rosacea skin is dry and needs a soothing moisturiser
Rosacea skin often feels dry and can be very reactive to skincare. However, this is often a sign of microinflammation rather than true dryness. Because rosacea skin often feels dry and tight, people tend to overload their skin with skincare that is too rich - which in turn may trigger a flare-up. Anti-inflammatory treatment with prescription creams and non-clogging skincare is key.
Myth 8: Acne and rosacea are the same thing
Both acne and rosacea belong into the same family of skin conditions, but aren't the same. Inflammatory lesions in rosacea can look very similar to acne, but rosacea is a completely separate entity and should be treated as such. One difference, for example, is that rosacea does not come with blackheads and whiteheads. But you could of course suffer both simultaneously.
Myth 9: Men don't get rosacea nor do those under 30
It’s true that rosacea is more common from your 30s or 40s, but just because you're under 30, it doesn't mean, it’s not rosacea. Similarly, although rosacea is more common for women (especially for fair skin types), men can suffer with rosacea too (and men tend to have more severe cases of rosacea). So make sure to see a dermatologist for the correct diagnosis.
Myth 10: Rosacea is contagious
Not true. Rosacea is not contagious. However, rosacea can run in families (as the predisposition is genetic), which might explain the confusion.
Myth 11: Rosacea doesn't need treatment...
Rosacea should be taken seriously and treated properly, as rosacea is a potentially disfiguring facial skin condition that can get worse, if left untreated. It's much easier to control and manage rosacea if treatment is started early enough.
Myth 12: Rosacea is curable
Unfortunately there's no way to switch rosacea off for good, as it’s a chronic condition with genetic background, so don’t fall for miracle rosacea cures. The good news is that a dermatologist can help to control the condition, so that it might not be visible. However, flare ups are possible, if maintenance treatment is stopped or the skin is exposed to trigger factors such as unsuitable skincare.