What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects more than 415 million people globally.
It is characterized by redness and visible blood vessels on the face. Small, pus-filled bumps may also appear.
Despite its high prevalence, rosacea is a poorly understood skin condition that is often mistaken for other conditions like acne.
Types of Rosacea
There are four types of rosacea, each of which comes with its own set of symptoms:
Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR)
Symptoms: Facial redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels.
Papulopustular (or acne) rosacea
Symptoms: Acne-like breakouts, swelling, and redness.
Symptoms: Thickening and redness, mostly on the nose. Often coexists with other types.
Symptoms: Redness in the eye, along with irritation and swollen eyelids.
Visible Signs Of Rosacea
Facial redness: A persistent redness on the face, especially around the central part. Small blood vessels become visible.
Swollen, red bumps: Pimples are seen across the face, and the swollen bumps may also contain pus.
Eye problems: Mainly seen in cases of ocular rosacea. This results in swollen, often irritated, and dry eyes.
Swollen nose: Associated with rhinophyma rosacea, the skin under the nose thickens and starts to swell. This is more seen in men than in women.
How does Genetics Influence the Risk of Rosacea?
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex
The HLA genes are primarily involved in immune function. Certain changes in these genes can cause the body to misdirect immune responses. Rosacea occurs when the misdirected immune attacks result in the inflammation of blood vessels.
rs763035 SNP and the Risk of Rosacea
rs763035 is an SNP in the HLA-DRB gene. The T allele is associated with an increased risk of rosacea.
People with the CT and TT types are at an 1.2 times and 1.6 times more likely to develop rosacea than the people with CC types.
Another gene complex called the glutathione-S transferases (GSTs) is also associated with the risk of rosacea. GST is involved in regulating oxidative stress in the body. Certain GST variants reduce the ability to protect the skin from damage due to oxidative stress, thus making it prone to rosacea.
Non-genetic Factors that Influence Rosacea Risk
- Gender: Rosacea is more common in women, but men tend to have a more severe form of this condition.
- Age: Rosacea occurs in adults, mostly between 30 and 60 years of age.
- Fair skin: People with fair skin experience facial flushing more and are at a higher risk for rosacea.
- Weather: Environmental factors also play a major role, and the most studied is exposure to sunlight. Both extremes of weather - from scorching heat to freezing cold and windy seasons can affect the condition.
- Spicy food: Spicy food, especially chili, is a common trigger of flare-ups.
Recommendations To Avoid/Manage Rosacea
Dietary Recommendations For Rosacea
Foods You May Need To Avoid
Several foods could trigger flare-ups. It is preferred that these are limited or avoided:
1. Alcohol - Even a tiny amount of alcohol (champagne, vodka, beer, gin, and bourbon) has resulted in flare-ups in a majority of patients.
2. Hot beverages - Drinking hot beverages can cause the vessels on the face to dilate, causing a blushed appearance.
3. Spicy foods - Most spicy foods contain the chemical ‘capsaicin.’ Eating foods that contain this chemical can worsen symptoms. Avoid jalapenos, chilies, or tabasco peppers.
4. Dairy - Common culprits are milk, sour cream, yogurt, and cheese.
It is also recommended to avoid foods that contain high amounts of histamine and cinnamaldehyde, like chocolate, nuts, cinnamon, and foods pickled with vinegar.
Foods that reduce inflammation, healthy fats, probiotics, and fiber-rich foods may help or reduce the severity of some rosacea symptoms. These include:
1. Whole foods like oatmeal and brown rice
2. Nuts, fatty fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids
3. Berries, rich in antioxidants
4. Yogurt, sauerkraut, miso are probiotic foods
5. Fiber-rich foods like bananas, onions, leeks, garlic, and whole grains
Home-remedies for Rosacea-flare ups
- Face massages can help reduce inflammation.
- Some oils like emu, laurelwood, and oregano have been believed to help treat rosacea. However, there is no scientific data to back up this claim.
- Taking supplements like omega-3-fatty acids can be useful.
- Take extra caution while dealing with eyelid hygiene. Washing the eyelid with a gentle cleanser can remove grime that may clog up pores.
- Maintain a food diary, as well as a skincare journal, to help you identify potential triggers.
- Rosacea is a skin condition characterized by redness and little bumps across the face. There are four different types of rosacea, each of which comes with its own set of symptoms
- Rosacea occurs mostly in people of 30-60 years of age. Fair-skinned people are more prone to rosacea. Other risk factors include extreme weather conditions and spicy food consumption.
- HLA gene complex is involved in the immune responses. Some faults in certain genes in the HLA complex can lead to misdirected immune responses.
- rs763035 is an SNP in the HLA-DRB gene associated with the risk of rosacea. People with the CT and TT type of this SNP have a 1.2 and 1.6 times increased risk for rosacea.
- Alcohol and hot beverages trigger rosacea flare-ups and should be avoided if you have an increased risk.
- Foods like nuts, yogurt, and bananas help reduce and soothe skin inflammation, thereby alleviating rosacea.