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Is Your Lifestyle Making Your Rosacea Worse?

Rosacea affects about 16 million Americans, and if you’re one of them, you know the physical and emotional toll its symptoms can cause. Regular dermatology visits are important for managing your symptoms and avoiding flares, but there are other things you can do, too.

At Dermatology Associates of Central New Jersey, our team of skilled, compassionate dermatologists offers comprehensive care for rosacea sufferers in Old Bridge, Freehold, and Union, New Jersey, with treatments tailored to each person’s unique needs and symptoms. In honor of National Rosacea Awareness Month, here’s a quick review of how your lifestyle might be affecting your symptoms — and what you can do about it.

Rosacea 101

The first step in managing rosacea is understanding what it is. Rosacea is a relatively common inflammatory skin disorder that shows up mostly on the face. The most common signs of rosacea are redness or “flushing,” skin irritation, and small bumps that look like tiny pimples. Sometimes, rosacea can affect your eyes, too, a condition called ocular rosacea.

The redness or “flushing” is caused by tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin that become dilated, increasing blood flow to the area. Researchers don’t know exactly what causes rosacea, and currently, there’s no cure. However, there are ways to manage it, including topical and oral medications and lifestyle changes. 

One of the most important lifestyle-related treatments begins by knowing your “triggers” — events or substances that can make your symptoms worse. Avoiding those triggers can help reduce flares and make your symptoms more manageable. Here are five lifestyle factors that could be making your symptoms worse.

#1: Soaking in the sun

Basking at the Jersey Shore sounds tempting, especially with summer around the corner. But too much UV radiation can increase your symptoms and even make those tiny vessels more visible. Try to avoid the sun during peak hours, and wear a good sunscreen for optimal protection. The National Rosacea Society says sunscreens with zinc or titanium dioxide may work best.

#2: Drinking alcohol

A recent study found alcohol not only increases the risk of a flare-up, but it may actually increase your risk for developing rosacea, as well. White wine and hard liquors were most likely to cause symptoms, and the risk of developing rosacea increased with the amount of alcohol that was consumed.

#3: Being stressed out

Stress is a trigger for all sorts of inflammation, including the kind associated with rosacea. Taming stress isn’t easy, but one recent survey says patients who were able to manage their stress did see a reduction in rosacea symptoms. 

#4: Taking hot baths

Sure, a nice bath can be good for relieving stress — but if the water’s too hot, your symptoms may just get worse. That’s because the added heat can dilate those tiny vessels so you look more flushed. Plus, too many hot baths can dry skin, increasing the risk of irritation. The same is true of hot tubs.

#5: Eating spicy foods

Even people who don’t have rosacea can find themselves getting flushed after a particularly spicy meal, so it’s no surprise the effect can be doubled in someone with the condition. The same natural chemicals that give many foods their spicy kick act on your nervous system and blood vessels, too, causing vessels to dilate. 

Manage rosacea: Know your triggers

Knowing what triggers your symptoms can help you feel more confident, and it can also help prevent those symptoms from getting worse over time. At Dermatology Associates of Central New Jersey, our team will work with you to develop a treatment plan that’s optimized for your symptoms, so you can learn the best way to manage your rosacea now and in the future. To learn more about rosacea treatment, call the practice, or book an appointment online today.

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