Over 14 million Americans have rosacea. Frequently, rosacea begins as redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead. Occasionally, you might see it on the ears, neck, chest or scalp. This early stage redness often ebbs and flows.
If the condition progresses unchecked, the redness will become deeper in color and more constant. Blood vessels may appear on the face, along with pimples or other bumps. In severe conditions, the nose may appear swollen and bumpy with excess tissue, a condition called rhinophyma. Up to 50 percent of people who have rosacea get eye problems. Eyes can have redness, dryness, itching, burning, excess tears, and the feeling of having sand in the eye. The eyelids may become inflamed and swollen. The eyes may become sensitive to light, and the person may have blurred vision or some other kind of vision problem.
Other warning signs to look for include facial swelling, raised red patches, or a burning, itching, or tight feeling in the face.
Rosacea – TYPES AND CAUSES
There are four subtypes of rosacea. They are:
- Erythematotelangectatic rosacea (subtype 1): flushing, redness, sometimes visible blood vessels
- Papulopustular rosacea (subtype 2): persistent redness with pimples and bumps that come and go
- Phymatous rosacea (subtype 3): enlargement of nose from excess tissue, skin thickening
- Ocular rosacea (subtype 4): watering, burning, swelling of your eyelids, dry eyes, sties, damage to cornea resulting in vision loss 1
Rosacea is a chronic, progressive disorder which is often distinguished by flare-ups followed by remissions. According to the National Rosacea Society, over 75 percent of people with rosacea feel the condition has affected their self-esteem. Many avoid social activities when experiencing a flare-up. Almost half of that group has missed work due to their condition. If someone is fair-skinned with a tendency to blush or redden easily, they are at higher risk. The disorder is more common among women, but the more severe cases are seen in men. The underlying cause of rosacea has remained a puzzle within the mainstream medical community.
- Genetics may play a role
- One theory suggests the condition may be the result of oversensitive blood vessels in the face.
- Another attributes the disorder to mites (Demodex folliculorum) which naturally live on the skin. Rosacea sufferers have more of these mites than people without the condition.
- It is possible there is a connetion between rosacea and a stomach infection caused by Helicobacter bacteria.
Helicobacter infection can be a central factor associated with intestinal parasites, ulcers, gastric cancer, autoimmune diseases and skin conditions as well as the dilution of essential stomach acids for digestion, thus causing pain, indigestion, abdominal swelling or bloating, nausea and even vomiting. Research indicates that treating Helicobacter infection can help eliminate these illnesses. The most common treatment offered is antibiotics, but there are herbal treatments that may work better (these include rhubarb root and echinacea- see an herbalist for details).
As one example of how effective elimination of Helicobacter infection can be, a study found that 87 percent of patients with an autoimmune disease that causes the blood to leak from fine blood vessels (ITP) had Helicobacter occurrence. Eradication of the Helicobacter led to complete remission in half these patients. Rosacea is another sign of Helicobacter presence. This skin condition has been completely healed in cases where Helicobacter was eliminated. 2
IS A HYPERVIGILANT (OR FAULTY) IMMUNE SYSTEM TO BLAME?
Recent studies conducted by Dr. Richard Gallo of the University of California, San Diego, and an international team of researchers show has found that specific immune system proteins might bring on the condition of rosacea. These proteins may trigger rosacea symptoms while they are in the process of protecting the body. The immune system generates natural antibiotic proteins to fight disease and help the body stay healthy. These proteins –which can be activated by irritation or infection — target harmful bacteria and put in place other protective immune system responses.
Researchers are looking into whether the action of a specific immune system protein called a cathelicidin, which has both antimicrobial and pro-inflammatory properties, might cause the development of rosacea in some people. Some of the symptoms, like skin inflammation and enlarged blood vessels, are associated with cathelicidins. Cathelicidins are made active by a specific enzyme, SCTE (stratum corneum tryptic enzyme). Studies show that rosacea sufferers have an atypically high amount of cathelicidins in their skin, as well as elevated SCTE. For these patients, it appears the chronic production and activation of cathelicidins does not inhibit bacterial growth, but instead may trigger rosacea symptoms. 3
DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Exercise Regularly
This will also help to normalize your insulin level and overall improve the performance of your immune system. Try to avoid getting overheated which can stress the body and cause skin inflammation. Keeping a healthy body weight is essential.
- Limit Sugar and Grains.
One of the best ways to do normalize your insulin levels is by making certain your intake of foods that will raise them like bread, pasta, sugar, bread, corn, potatoes and rice are kept low. Ideally it would be best to measure your fasting insulin level (it should be 3 or lower) to determine if you are eating inappropriate amounts of these foods. We recommend avoiding all wheat.
- Optimize Your Sun Exposure and Vitamin D Levels
When you have appropriate levels of vitamin D, your body will produce over 200 antimicrobial peptides to fight any infection in your body. If for whatever, reason you are unable to receive regular sun exposure, then you will want to take a high quality vitamin D supplement and measure your vitamin D level so it is around 35-50 ng/ml.
- Eliminate Trans Fat and Processed Foods
Most of the fats in your skin cell membranes are exclusively omega-6 fats. If you consume processed foods that are loaded with damaged omega-6 fats, they will be incorporated into your cell membrane and predispose that skin cell to an increased risk of diseases like rosacea and skin cancers. Obtain good sources of omega-6 fat from organic sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame or their cold pressed oils.4
- Food Allergies
Undiagnosed food allergies may also play a role in causing inflammation and flushing to the skin. The common culprits are wheat, cow dairy, citrus, tomatoes and eggplant.
- Avoid Spicy Foods
Spicy foods create excess heat and flushing to the skin, exacerbating the condition. Too much red meat and alcohol can also cause problems with rosacea. Choose cooling foods like avocado, coconut, cilantro, mint, fish, lettuce and apples. Alfalfa leaf tablets can also help cool the body and reduce inflammation.
To balance intestinal flora.
If candida may be present.
3. Liver DTX
To help assist the liver in cleansing toxins to prevent blood circulation and skin excretion and increase protection against inflammation.
Low vitamin C status enables H.Pylori to thrive, where is high vitamin C status may inactivate its ability to colonize. Very important for helping prevent reoccurring infections.
2. (Kerry Bone from “11 things you can eat or drink to knock out the hidden factor behind chronic — even deadly — disease,” Nutrition and Healing Newsletter, Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., March 2005, www.wrightnewsletter.com)