To even the most knowledgeable skin-care nerd, “rosacea” and “redness” are often mistaken as synonyms. While many of us know that the condition tends to show up by way of red, flushed skin, that’s actually only one of the indicators that you’re dealing with rosacea… which is why so many people are confused.
“Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that people associate with redness on the face, but it can actually present in many different ways,” says board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. Oftentimes, patients will come to her thinking that they’re dealing with acne or sensitive skin, when in reality, it’s rosacea.
Because there’s so much confusion surrounding the topic, we asked Dr. Gohara to break it down for us in the latest episode of Dear Derm. One of the most mind-blowing pieces of knowledge she dropped? The redness flare ups that most of us associate with rosacea are only one of a number of different indicators that you might be dealing with rosacea. According to her, the four biggies are:
1. Trigger-based flushing: When most people think of rosacea, it’s likely this presentation that comes to mind. It’s characterized by skin turning red with certain triggers, like spicy food, red wine, changes of temperature or emotion, or hormonal shifts. “The face gets a little pink in the cheeks and the flushing goes back down,” explains Dr. Gohara. It can be quick, and comes and goes along with the things that trigger it.
2. Textural changes: If there are any noticeable changes in the texture of your skin—like acne bumps, enlarge pores, dryness, or irritation—it could be a sign or rosacea. “You may see these textural changes, which can look like pimples, around your chin, nose, and eyes,” says Dr. Gohara.
3. Broken capillaries: Broken capillaries—aka the little blood vessels underneath your skin—can make your skin look red or pink, like you’re wearing blush or spent too much time in the sun. Unlike trigger-based flushing, which is fairly momentary, this type redness sticks around for longer.
4. Watery, gritty eyes: Ocular rosacea, which happens around your eyes, is it’s own beast. According to Dr. Gohara, it presents by way of watery eyes that feel gritty. like you, “ want to dig something out of there.” (please, don’t.)
Each one of these components have a nuanced treatment that you’ll want to talk to your doctor about,” says Dr. Gohara. “That being said, anyone with rosacea really should consider using a very gentle skin-care routine on a daily basis.”
To find out exactly what that looks like (plus the ingredients that Dr. Gohara should never go near rosacea-prone skin), press play on the video above.
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