My name is Lex and I'm taking over Pai's blog today to talk about rosacea. About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with rosacea at the age of 21. Before the doctor mentioned this word, I had never heard the word "rosacea" before and had no idea how much this diagnosis would affect my life.
I am fair-skinned, have always turned slightly red and had very sensitive skin, but I only assumed that this was just "my normality". It was only when I left home and went to university that it became clear that something was wrong: my occasional blush turned into purple, blotchy, burning spots on my face that lasted for hours, my cheeks were covered with itchy pustules, and I was had no idea what to do. I went to my family doctor and assumed it was an allergic reaction that a simple cream would solve. I left this 10-minute appointment diagnosed with an incurable skin condition and felt completely lost. I turned to the Internet and found US-based forums full of sufferers who gave advice, tips and, above all, support. Seven years ago I started talking about rosacea in my blog Talonted Lex and never looked back. I try to offer advice and support to others, remembering exactly what it felt like to leave the doctor's appointment with a diagnosis that I didn't fully understand and not much else.
One of the most difficult things about rosacea is that it is so individual: it can look and feel different for each person, and the triggers vary from person to person. But I have a few general tips for treating or minimizing the effects of your rosacea:
LISTEN TO YOUR SKIN
I try to look at my rosacea as the way my body releases an emergency torch. I'm doing something my skin doesn't like, and it's trying desperately to tell me. Your skin is not your enemy (although it feels like it at first glance!), But your ally. Refreshing how I looked at my rosacea was a big step not only to accept it but to learn from it.
IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGER
It took me a long time to find out what my skin was doing and what wasn't, and I urge you to prioritize the identification of your triggers. [can I link to my triggers checklist download here?] . Not only does this help me physically soothe my rosacea, it also helps me cope mentally as I feel like I am in control and take steps every day to maintain my skin health. My biggest triggers are stress, extreme temperatures, sun, dairy products, illness / pain and alcohol. Some of them are easier to avoid than others!
Be realistic about your triggers
When I talk about triggers, it can sound overwhelming to some people: they see a huge list of things that could make their skin worse, and they are incredulous, discouraged, or even angry. I have experienced all of these feelings. I try to show people that you are in control of your skin and that the daily decisions with the information you have are up to you. I know my skin doesn't respond well to dairy products, but life without cheese (for me) is unthinkable. That's why I eat the cheese from time to time and accept the consequences. Only you can know what a flare-up is worth: cheese, red wine, weekly blow-dryers, marathons … whatever your vice is: you are the one who can decide.
It takes a long time to figure out how to listen to your skin and learn from it what it tells you. Changes in diet, skin care, and lifestyle take weeks to bear fruit. So don't be discouraged.
TRY TO MINIMIZE STRESS
This is the one I am still struggling with because stress in its nature is inevitable and can arise from nowhere. A busy week, money problems, a global pandemic …! You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you deal with it. When I have a flare, I like to remember three things: "You have had a flare before. You have survived each one. Taking care of them only makes them worse." Other things that you should introduce into your routine are meditation, positive affirmations (as above), and visualization. For some, this may sound a bit "woo-woo", but the brain is a powerful tool: if stress can provoke a negative mindset, it suggests that a positive mindset does so can help reverse some of the effects. You can read more in my blog post here.
Over time, I have taught myself to go through the sales tactics, the skincare waffle, and the confusing claims to find products and ingredients that really work for my skin. I used to trust every brand that said it was “suitable for sensitive skin” and I thought that “organic”, “natural” and “clean” automatically mean “good”. Ingredients that I avoid are tea tree, witch hazel, menthol, SLS and additional fragrance. I also avoid products that "revitalize", "energize", "wake up", "refresh" or use the word "tingling"! On the other hand, my skin loves products with aloe, cucumber, rose and chamomile, and I tend to products that use words like "soothing", "soot hung" and "moisturizing".
SIMPLY IS THE BEST
When people come to me and ask for advice on skin care, I always tell them to put everything back to the essentials. The bare minimum you need is detergent, moisturizer, sunscreen . Once you have sorted these three products, you can build from there if necessary.
You have rosacea, but it doesn't define you. You are still the same person as before the diagnosis. Please remember that your rosacea is the least interesting thing about you.
You can read more about Lex on her Talonted Lex blog.
Remember, if you have questions about your own skin or are not sure which products or routines are suitable for you, we offer a free 30-minute skin advice service. Book yours now on paiskincare.com.