Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Acne Rosacea. No more?

Those of you that know me personally will know that for my 40th birthday I was given acne rosacea. Literally. I've had better gifts.

Overnight I started developing angry red spots that wouldn't go anywhere no matter what I threw at them. My targeted areas seemed to be the sides of my face from my cheekbones down and rather irritatingly along the base of my hairline on my neck.  If you have/have had any kind of rosacea and acne you have my utmost sympathy. It's sore, frustrating, embarrassing and from what I hear - more and more common in women 35+. Stress? Hormones? Diet? No-one really knows what causes it but it's a problem that is not going anywhere anytime soon.

I finally decided to stop acting like a twenty something - or even worse, a teenager, when it came to my body and am trying now to respect it for the age it is and refuel the tank in a more appropriate manner!

Since Christmas I have made quite a few changes to my routine and diet and am starting to see results so thought I would share what is currently working for me.
  1. Firstly I stopped taking all prescribed medications. Oxytetracycline was prescribed to me about 5 months ago and I did initially have a little success with it but after hearing about and experiencing some of the side effects I decided they weren't for me. If you are on them I would urge you to read the fine print and talk not to your GP, but to friends who have taken them.
  2. I also made a concerted effort to stop eating rubbish. It's a work in progress but I'm getting there. For me this means sugar and anything synthetically white. So I eat spuds (obviously!), but have massively cut down on pasta and rice and have cut white bread out altogether. I eat seeded multi-grain now and cannot imagine otherwise. It's really hard when you have four children to just eat what they eat, but I can't do it anymore.
  3. Water. I always drank it but sporadically. Now I have a constant pint of cold tap water to hand. No fizzy drinks. No drinks containing sweetener. Cutting these out I KNOW has made a huge difference.
  4. Milk. I try to only drink milk in tea. No cereal, no glasses of milk - and that has definitely helped also. I don't like soy/goats/monkey/lamb's milk so that is it for me.
  5. Supplements. I've always taken supplements and have posted about them previously here. Now I am taking them seriously. Folic acid and iron for health reasons - and I am back on these. The Murad regime worked brilliantly for me last time and then they ran out and I moved on to something else. No more. These work. I'm sleeping better, getting up easier and these are partly the reason. I highly recommend.
  6. Wine. I love red wine. It is the only alcohol I drink. But now I only indulge at weekends - and then it's a good wine. I can tell from one sip if a red wine is going to affect my skin or not. If I sense it is, I don't drink it. Previously I would think 'Sod it, it'll be fine'. It won't be fine. I'll wake up looking like a spotty teenager.
  7. I changed my skincare routine. I chop and change everything all the time. No more. If I am sent products for testing they go in a queue and if I know they are unsuitable for me they go to reliable therapist friends with the suitable skintype who can give me feedback.
The upshot of this is that my skin has improved remarkably. It's no miracle fix but it's much better. As an added bonus I have not experienced any symptoms of previously diagnosed IBS in months. And I have so far lost 8lbs. I'm not sure from where exactly but that's what the scales say so who am I to argue..?!?
And I am NOT trying to diet. Far from it.

I'm just growing up. Finally...

Next up:  The skincare that has helped me the most.


  1. Fab post and can seriously relate. Have had rosacea for as long as I can remember to varying degrees, now all of a sudden its been joined by what feel like boils that just never (thank god) come to a head. Had one on chin 2 weeks ago and last week had something going on on my nose that felt like 2 or more, but the pain - so bad I had to take pain killers and I am not a wimp - kept moving as if the source was moving. Will be waiting eagerly for your next post on this.

  2. Oh, thank you so much for this post! I have terrible skin, in part due to PCOS (finally diagnosed last week - so I'm fat, spotty, hairy and quite possible barren ooh what a catch!) and also bad genes, my Dad has very oily skin and suffers from 'backne'. It's good to know what things have helped you - like you say I think it's about time I started to grow up rather than think sod it and wake up with pizza face! Looking forward to reading about the skincare - I am at my wits end with it :-(

  3. Awesome post and it couldn't have been a better time! I've had problems with my skin for quite a while now - dermatitis on my hands and legs and huge pimples on my face especially nose (although now I have a lovely vulcano on my left cheek - on my face!). I'm also trying to eat healthier - more fruits and vegetables, less sugar, less alcohol (that sounds like I was a proper drinker), although I love yoghurts and cheese, ahh. I already drink lots of water, excercise more (which is more related to my body and energy) and I've started taking supplements like you - Omega 3 + a mix of vitamins for healthy skin. I will simplify my skincare as well - the 1st thing I did already was that I got a very gentle cleansing gel and it's so much nicer than all those alcohol+menthol filled products that are meant to treat blemish-prone skin and all they do is make it even more irritated.
    I'm very much looking forward to read your skincare routine. Thank you very much for your post, it's a great additional motivator for me to keep doing what I'm doing (and learn something new:) x Klara

  4. I have just scarffed down a white bread crust + butter whilst reading this *hangs head in shame* but you make some salient points here and I wouldn't have expected any less of you you guru you. Recently I have developed hormonal spots everyday of the month in inopportune places like middle of cheeks, and they take an age to go. I think skin is such a barometer of one's mental health and am with you in the trying to stick to products which I know work. Thanks as always for these golden words. Jan xx

  5. Thank you so much for writing about this. Your approach seems very sensible; it's almost exactly what I do to improve my general health.

    Adult acne can be very difficult to cope with. An endocrinologist can be very helpful if acne is hormone related.

  6. Since I stopped eating white carbs - sugar, bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta my skin has greatly improved. In my thirties I started getting redness and irritation and it's just never gone away. I'm trying to lose weight for my wedding in September and me and my fiance are on a low-carb eating plan and the difference is incredible. I'm 40 now I just want decent skin!

  7. Need to avoid common rosacea triggers, such as chocolate, alcohol, cold weather, face scrubs, exercise, fragrances and hot baths. Drink plenty of water, which will helps skin well hydrated and healthy.

  8. I just found this entry - and I have it too!! But I'm TWENTY THREE. I thought rosacea was something in skin from mid thirties and up. How do I get rid of it!? I can't afford a dermatologist much as I would like one. Are there any treatments/cures? Please help Caroline!

    1. I've also suffered from rosacea since a young age - I was diagnosed at 16. Sadly it's not something you can cure, although I've heard that some people go into remission if they're lucky! I suffered very badly when I was at school but I've got control now and I'm left with just a slight pink colour across my nose. It's frustrating but it's something I'm grateful for given my previous state. For me, the best things to avoid are excessive amounts of citrus fruit, large amounts of sugar and fat, alcohol, harsh face wash/moisturiser, stress, excessive make up (sadly, a vicious circle if you try to hide it) and medicated gels etc (doctor prescribed gels didn't help at all). A post on rosacea-friendly make-up would certainly be a help!

    2. Hi Ladies,

      I've suffered too and would very politely disagree that you can indeed cure it. I'll do some extra posts about it. :)

  9. Extra posts would be wonderful! I developed acne rosacea a year ago - yucky yuk - I hate it... Any advice about skincare? And make-up to cover it?
    Ooh - and could you suggest the most tolerable retinol treatment out there.Would really like to start using it, but every one I've tried has caused bad reactions, Thank you for your wonderful posts!

  10. hi lily what u mean citrus fruit i thought all fruits help plz reply

  11. Caroline plzzzzz any advice about skincare for acne rosacea :(

  12. I'm wondering as well if you have a skincare products post for us rosacea sufferers? Specifically products that can help reduce flushing :) Thank you!

  13. reading this post was like reading something I would have written word for word, save for prescription drugs. My mother always has - and still does - drawers full of meds for any condition possible, "just in case" and my entire childhood I've been dragged to the doctor's, for no obvious reason, so as a result of that I've grown into an adult who only takes meds if it's a question of life or death. I treat my colds with tons of sleep and liters of hot water with lemon, no chemicals. But I degrade. When I first got rosacea I eliminated everything from my bathroom cabinet. All creams, serums, makeup. All of it. I was on coconut oil, rose water and diluted lemon juice for months, while it helped initially, my rosacea exhibited signs of a clever virus that adapts to treatment and is no longer affected by it. So I broke out again and my rosacea spread to my chin and down my cheeks. I obsessively started using foundation and concealer, spending hours online looking at beauty blogs to see which ones are considered to be 'best in business'. I purchased a bunch and some worked wonders to mask the redness without being obvious on the skin - I loved my Make up for ever HD foundation, It Cosmetics CC cream, EX1 foundation, It Cosmetics concealer, Clarins concealer, etc. But after some time of enjoying flawless results, my skin reacted violently. I then switched to organic makeup to try and make things better. Rubbish stuff, for most part. The only two genuinely great products I have found - W3ll People concealer, and BareMinerals powder foundation. Love them, and will always use them. BareMinerals actually made my redness fade and bumps go away. I adore that thing. Once I have sufficiently wrecked my skin with makeup I became obsessed with skincare to treat my pore epidermis. My bathroom started to look like a beauty counter, I can genuinely open a small beauty / makeup stall, I have enough product in stock! After much trial and error I can hail the following heroes of the day - Karin Herzog: I am using her Professional Cleanser and Vitamin H, and these two are incredible. Vitamin H cream worked like nothing else. Results were almost immediate. It's bloody expensive but I got mine at Space NK 50% off sale, and now obsessively combing online beauty retailers for best deals to see where I can top up from once I run out. This is always going to be with me. It's IN.CREDIBLE. Bioderma Sensibio micellar water H2O is brilliant too, calms things right down. I alternate between Karin's cleanser and the two-step of coconut oil then Bioderma Sensibio, and have been enjoying pretty wonderful results. As a rosacea sufferer I think not having an adverse reaction is already a success and if you manage to tone down the red it's a victory. I'm going to try a few products from Mario Badescu line, I've heard only great things about the line. Oskia, Zelens, Omorovicza and Su Man are also worth taking a look at. Ingredients wise, green tea is probably the most potent when dealing with rosacea. Often listed as Camellia oil. Rose hip oil is great. Calendula calms things down. Licorice. Honey! Mix some honey and matcha green tea powder or just have slap some *manuka* honey on your face twice a week, it's pretty awesome. I haven't had much success with drug store brands, save for Bioderma. All the anti-redness creams do nothing for me. Hope this is helpful to someone!

  14. Just diagnosed with Rosacea this morning, after waking up with a face full of angry red spots and a stingy blotchy rash, i lost my job so i assume thats the trigger, the medical sites and stuff i have read so far have been depressing, so much so i have considered moving underground to be a recluse, but now i have been pointed to some blogs and articles, such as yours, with people with practical lived advice about it. Heres hoping it calms down quickly, I'm a man too and dont think i could pull off makeup to disguise it sadly, a pox on it

  15. Hello Caroline! Could flannel cloth wash be too harsh for people suffering from rosacea ? thnx