Rosacea, Redness & Sensitivity
Rosacea, redness and skin sensitivity are three different conditions that may present similar symptoms but can affect the skin in various ways.
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that can cause redness, swelling, skin sensitivity, and bumps on the face. It can affect anyone, but it’s more common in fair-skinned individuals and those over the age of 30.
Skin sensitivity can be caused by various factors, including your skin type being naturally sensitive or your skin becoming sensitised due to external triggers. In this page, we will focus on sensitised skin, which is skin that has become temporarily sensitive. Skin sensitivity is a general term that refers to skin that is easily irritated or reactive. It can manifest as redness, itching, burning, or stinging and may be caused by a variety of factors. It can also lead to dryness or flaking of the skin, which can further exacerbate redness and irritation. If you have naturally sensitive skin, you may want to learn more about how to care for your skin type.
Redness can refer to skin flushing, persistent redness, or visible veins. Skin flushing is a temporary reddening of the skin due to increased blood flow, often caused by exercise, hot or spicy foods, or emotional stress. Persistant redness, on the other hand, may be a sign of an underlying skin condition such as rosacea or eczema. Visible veins, or telangiectasia, are small, dilated blood vessels that can be seen on the surface of the skin and are often associated with ageing, sun damage, or rosacea.
what are the symptoms?
- Episodes of flushing, where the skin turns red for short periods of time
- Burning and stinging sensations, itching or tightness can develop
- Dryness, skin may be rough and appear scaly, despite some potential oiliness
- Acne rosacea, small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples often develop (papules and pustules spots). This is not to be confused with acne, as blackheads are absent and acne rosacea is often accompanied by burning or stinging
- Small blood vessels in the skin become visible
- Permanent redness
What causes rosacea?
The exact cause of this skin condition is unknown, but it is believed to be related to an overactive immune system and/or genetics. However, certain triggers are known to exacerbate symptoms of rosacea. These triggers can vary from person to person, but understanding your own triggers can help you better manage your condition.
What are common triggers of rosacea flare-ups?
Leads to the production of vascular endothelial growth factors, a substance linked to the development of visible blood vessels.
Increases inflammation within the body, which can catalyse rosacea flare-ups
Ranked as the most common trigger for rosacea flare-ups, warm weather causes blood vessels to dilate, leading to skin flushing
Especially cold winter wind, can irritate the blood vessels on your face and aggravate rosacea
Raises the temperature and increases blood supply to the surface of the skin, triggering skin flushing
Dilates the blood vessels in the skin, reddening the face and causing skin flushing
Strip the skin of its natural oils and moisture, sensitising the skin and aggravating rosacea
Strips the skin of its natural oils and irritates your skin barrier, aggravating rosacea
Aggravates rosacea symptoms like flushing, stinging, and burning
Humidity and indoor heat
Same as hot weather
Irritating skin products
Can strip your skin’s natural oils and damage your skin barrier, aggravating rosacea
Causes blood vessels to expand, causing flushing and redness
Can damage and irritate your skin barrier, causing rosacea flare-ups
How do you know if you have rosacea?
If you suspect that you may have rosacea, it’s essential to seek a professional diagnosis from a dermatologist. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can cause redness, flushing, and bumps, among other symptoms, but it can resemble other skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and acne, making an accurate diagnosis crucial for proper treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment can be especially helpful in managing rosacea, as it may prevent the condition from worsening. If left untreated, rosacea can lead to inflammation, broken blood vessels, and even eye problems.
What can you do to manage your rosacea symptoms?
Apply sun protection daily
Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and seek shade when possible.
Minimise stress levels
Stress is a common trigger for rosacea flare-ups, so it’s essential to practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
Avoid skincare products, soaps, and household cleaners that contain harsh chemicals, fragrances, dyes, and other ingredients that can irritate delicate skin
Choose gentle, fragrance-free products formulated for sensitive skin.
Cut down on alcohol consumption
Alcohol can dilate blood vessels, which can exacerbate rosacea symptoms. Limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether.
Keep a diary of what triggers your rosacea flare-ups and minimise these catalysts
Identify your personal triggers, such as spicy foods or hot beverages, and avoid them whenever possible.
Equip dry air with a humidifier to retain moisture and avoid the air stripping it from your skin
Dry air can worsen rosacea symptoms, so consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air and help keep your skin hydrated.
Redness and sensitivity
what are the causes?
Redness and sensitivity are common skin concerns that can be caused by various factors. Redness is typically the result of irritation or a flare-up in individuals with sensitive or sensitised skin. Sensitivity, on the other hand, can be attributed to two different factors – having naturally sensitive skin or experiencing sensitisation due to external triggers.
What’s the difference between sensitive skin and sensitised skin?
Sensitive skin is chracterised by a heightened reaction to environmental factors, such as sunlight, weather changes, or certain skincare products. Sensitised skin, however, is a condition that can develop over time due to exposure to irritants or allergens. Common triggers of skin sensitisation include excessive exfoliation, harsh skincare products, and pollution.
- Usually inherited
- Flares up after exposure to certain foods or ingredients
- Can lead to an easily broken skin barrier
- Blood vessels are closer to the surface
- Easily stimulated by outside irritants
- Prone to blushing and allergies
- Typically seen as a skin ‘injury’
- Usually the result of overstimulation/exfoliation of the skin
- Can also be caused by environmental or lifestyle choices
- Most often due to an impaired or damaged skin barrier
- Results in redness, dryness, or irritation
What can you do to combat redness and sensitivity?
Restore your skin barrier
Sensitised skin can be restored by improving and restoring the skin’s barrier. Look for products that contain barrier-strengthening ingredients such as ceramides, fatty alcohols, and squalane.
Hydrate your skin
All skin types need help to effectively moisturise their skin, as the skin doesn’t naturally produce water. Look for products with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, polyglutamic acid, lactic acid, and sodium PCA.
Use emollients and occlusives
Emollients help to rebuild the skin barrier, while occlusives create a physical support barrier on the skin. Look for products that contain emollients like ceramides, fatty alcohols, and squalane, and occlusives like petrolatum.
Incorporate ingredients that calm redness
Look for products that contain ingredients known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as aloe vera, green tea, chamomile, and oatmeal.
Avoid overly stripping ingredients
Be careful of using harsh products that may strip the skin of its natural oils, making it more prone to redness and sensitivity. Avoid ingredients like alcohol, fragrances, and sulfates.
Avoid external factors that may be causing sensitivity
Protect your skin from external stressors that can cause sensitisation, such as pollution and extreme weather. Also, avoid over-exfoliating or over-cleansing your skin.