Your skin looks great and you want to pack light, but before you zip your suitcase make sure you pack any rosacea medication prescribed by your physician, along with a mild cleanser, sunscreen and a hat to shield your face from the sun. Although you can leave town, there is no "taking a vacation" from rosacea.
Successfully managing this chronic disorder -- often characterized by remissions and flare-ups -- usually requires consistent long-term medical therapy as well as lifestyle changes to avoid factors that may aggravate the condition.
"While a vacation may be a break from your usual routine, one routine that should not be broken is caring for your rosacea," said Dr. Diane Thiboutot, associate professor of dermatology at Pennsylvania State University. "Even when your condition appears dormant, it's important to continue therapy prescribed by your physician and take other measures to prevent a recurrence of symptoms."
Recent studies have demonstrated that patients who continued to use medical therapy were substantially less likely to experience a recurrence of symptoms. In a clinical study of rosacea sufferers over a six-month period, 77 percent of the patients who maintained long-term therapy remained in remission, while 42 percent of those who did not experienced a relapse.1
Many rosacea patients have found that including topical therapy in a daily facial care routine not only helps prevent flare-ups but also provides a refuge of calm during a busy day. A soothing regimen to avoid irritating the facial skin starts with a gentle soap or water-based cleanser that is not grainy or abrasive, and should be spread with the fingertips rather than using a rough washcloth or pulling at the skin. Rinse with lukewarm water, and use a thick cotton towel to blot the face dry. Topical medication may then follow when the face is dry (approximately 30 minutes, but ask your doctor). Then after medication has been absorbed, moisturizer, makeup or sunscreen may be used.
In addition to consistent skin care, rosacea patients are advised to identify and avoid environmental and lifestyle factors that may aggravate their individual conditions. Some of the most common rosacea tripwires include sun exposure, emotional stress, hot weather, alcoholic beverages, spicy foods, strenuous exercise, hot drinks, cold weather and wind.
Rosacea typically begins as a flushing or redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that comes and goes. Gradually the redness becomes more severe and persistent, and small blood vessels may become visible. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop, and in advanced cases the nose may become enlarged from excess tissue.
The importance of complying with medical therapy was underscored by the results of a National Rosacea Society survey of more than 1,022 rosacea sufferers. In that survey, 74 percent of the respondents said their condition worsened if they failed to use medication as prescribed by their physicians. Of those using medication as directed, 98 percent reported that it had reduced or at least somewhat reduced their symptoms.
- Dahl MV, Katz HI, et al: Topical metronidazole maintains remissions of rosacea. Archives of Dermatology. 1998;134:679-683