Seeing red every time you look into a mirror? It could be a cause for concern, especially if the redness on your face is accompanied by pimples, swelling and blotchiness. You might have acne rosacea. The condition occurs mainly on the face although it can appear on the neck, shoulders and back.
Acne rosacea is more common in women and can sometimes be mistaken for eczema or acne vulgaris. However, if you have acne vulgaris, blackheads and oily skin are common, while acne rosacea shows up as redness and inflammation.
If you have this skin condition and it persists, find out how to treat and prevent it.
Causes and Symptoms of Acne Rosacea
There are four main kinds of acne rosacea:
- Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea, commonly seen as redness and facial flushing
- Ocular Rosacea, with symptoms that include burning and itchy eyes
- Phymatous Rosacea, where skin is thick with large pores
- Rhinophyma, where nose is bumpy and blotchy
Some causes of the condition include:
- A family history of acne rosacea
- Exposure to hot weather extremes or sun rays
- Overconsumption of alcohol
- Spicy food
- Certain medications that dilate blood vessels, including some blood pressure medications
- Certain cosmetics or skincare products
A doctor or dermatologist will recommend creams or gels to help reduce your skin’s redness and swelling. Oral medications and antibiotics such as doxycycline are often prescribed in low doses if you have acne rosacea to reduce swelling. If you are pregnant, your doctor will advise you against taking doxycycline.
Topical drug such as azelaic acid also helps reduce the flushing.
Acne Rosacea in TCM
TCM physician Lim Sock Ling observes that the cause of the condition is an Accumulation of Heat or toxins in the Lungs and Stomach, with a combination of Wind Cold Pathogen. This results in Blood Stasis.
Treating Acne Rosacea Using TCM
At onset, TCM’s treatment emphasises on removing Wind and relieving itchiness, while treatment for a chronic condition would involve nourishing the blood and treating dryness. The following are two ways of treating acne rosacea:
Physician Lim recommends acupuncture to promote circulation, especially the micro-circulation of blood at the localised area of effect. It also helps clear Heat and prevents redness on the face.
A study conducted on a patient with a diagnosis of acne rosacea who underwent acupuncture treatments saw significant improvements in the patient’s nose region after three sessions within the first week. There was no relapse for six months after, which indicated the success of acupuncture in treating the condition.
Herbs that are commonly prescribed to nourish blood and promote blood circulation are Angelica sinesis (dang gui, 当归), wolfberries (gou qi, 枸杞), fleeceflower root (he shou wu, 何首乌), and chinese foxglove root (shu di huang, 熟地黄). These are often prescribed to help rehydrate the skin indirectly.
Huang Lian Jie Du soup (黄连解毒汤) is used for a stronger detoxing effect. It comprises herbs such as Scutellaria baicalensis (huang qin, 黄芩) and Coptis chinensis (huang lian, 黄连) which have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.
Physician Lim cautions that those who have Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD), a genetic disorder that affects red blood cells, should avoid Huang Lian Jie Du. Those who are on blood-thinning medication should avoid herbs that move blood.
How to Prevent Acne Rosacea
These steps are recommended by Physician Lim to help decrease the chances of triggering acne rosacea:
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Use sunblock regularly and avoid staying out in the hot sun for hours
- Have a simple yet effective skin care routine to keep your face clean
- Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods in your diet such as berries, fatty fish, olive oil, broccoli, avocado, and turmeric
- Stay hydrated to help flush out toxins and keep skin clean
- Wear a hat and avoid midday sun. In cold, windy weather, wear a scarf or ski mask
- Treat your skin gently. Don’t rub or touch your face
- Choose fragrance-free products. Avoid those that contain skin irritants such as alcohol, camphor, urea, and menthol
- Manage and reduce stress
- Avoid fried and spicy foods
Worry not if acne rosacea seems to be taking over your social life and getting your self-confidence down. There are natural and clinical solutions to take that will calm and smoothen your skin eventually. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, do consult your TCM physician or medical practitioner to determine the best treatment for you.
- Springer Science and Business Media LLC, Dermatology and Therapy, vol 7, no. S1, 2017, Acne and Rosacea [online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-016-0168-8 [Accessed 27 April 2022]
- F1000 Research Ltd., vol 7, 2018. Recent Advances in Understanding and Managing Rosacea, [online] Available at: https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.16537.1 [Accessed 27 April 2022]
- American Medical Association (AMA), JAMA, vol 307, no. 21, 2012. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2012.3942. [online] [Accessed 27 April 2022]
- British Journal of Hospital Medicine 2021. Rosacea [online] Available at: https://doi.org/10.12968/hmed.2020.0417. [Accessed 27 April 2022]
- National Library of Medicine, 2018. Treatment of Rosacea Using Acupuncture for Improving the Local Skin Microcirculation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6113042/ [online]. [Accessed 28 April 2022]
- Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 2014. Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial Effects of Heat-clearing Chinese Herbs: A Current Review. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S222541101630222X [online] Accessed 28 April 2022]
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