Attention red-skin sufferers! It’s National Rosacea Awareness Month and if, like me, you’ve put up with flushed skin your entire life, you may find this poignant month’s message hugely helpful.
Do you consider your skin to be highly sensitive? Do you flush in hot weather or when you’ve had a glass of wine? Does your skin burn easily? Does taking off your makeup leave your complexion feeling sore? Does your red skin leave you feeling self-conscious?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to even just one of these questions, you may have Rosacea.
Almost every day I have a model or actor sit in my makeup chair, unbeknownst to their medical skin condition. I’m no doctor, but the symptoms are obvious…and something I’ve spent years trying to research for cures and cover-ups. So when I was asked to take part in a ‘rosacea awareness’ campaign last week, I jumped at the chance. The day would start with me making myself up as if I was having a rosacea flare-up, before hitting the streets to film people’s reactions.
Before we go on, let’s examine what rosacea actually is. Appearing in many degrees-from mildly red skin all the way through to the kind of inflammation that can deform the features, rosacea affects one out of ten Britons. The first stage, known as Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea is a persistent facial redness where small blood vessels may be visible as well as stinging, burning, swelling and roughness. This form of rosacea, (which I’ve experienced all my life) can be almost undetectable at times or acutely aggressive during periods of stress, hormonal times or when enjoying sun, sand and wine (darn it).
The next stage of rosacea is Papulopustular, whereby, alongside persistent redness, bumps and/or pimples sit on the surface of the skin. Regularly misunderstood as being acne, this type of inflammation is often treated incorrectly with aggressive products which only exacerbate the problem.
Phymatous Rosacea may be associated with enlargement of the nose from excess tissue, a condition known as rhinophyma. This may include thickening of the skin and irregular surface nodules, which in rare cases can also develop in areas other than the nose.
Ocular Rosacea affects the eyes and may result in a watery or bloodshot appearance, irritation and burning or stinging. The eyelids become swollen and styes form on or inside the eyelid.
What I learnt from my day filming for ‘rosacea awareness’ is that the problem isn’t just the skin disease itself, but rather the ignorance surrounding it. Together with Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, Dr Dawn Harper and Dermatologist Dr Anton Alexandroff, we asked members of the public what they thought was ‘wrong’ with my skin. We were astonished to discover that very few people knew what rosacea was and most thought I was either sunburnt or experiencing some sort of allergic reaction. Many concluded that it was ‘normal’ to have an inflamed, red complexion and believed it to be part and parcel of being fairer skinned.
Causes of Rosacea, at this stage, are not precisely known. Evidence suggests that it may be an immune system issue, a bacterial concern or even a parasite called Dermodex. Even though the medical community haven’t settled on the exact cause of the disease, it is important to seek medical advice from your GP or a dermatologist because Rosacea symptoms rarely go away… and if left untreated, symptoms can become increasingly severe.
So, what’s the cure? Well, 81% of patients report flushing when exposed to sun, so staying well shaded is, without a doubt, the best protection. Medical interventions include antibiotic treatment and a prescription gel called Mirvaso, which can keep redness at bay for up to 12 hours. A makeup primer is essential….Try Colour Correcting Primer from Smashbox. Long lasting concealer such as Laura Geller Real Deal Concealer and Recover Correct and Conceal Red are my go-to products for realistic yet effective camouflage.
Filming ‘Experience My Rosacea’ was an eye-opening adventure that left me compelled to raise awareness for this very common disease. At the beginning of the day I woke up with very ‘normal’ looking skin so my rosacea had to be faked with makeup. Funnily enough, at the end of a long day filming, I removed the red make up blotches only to find my skin experiencing an actual rosacea flare up. Sore, tight, hot and stingy, it reminded me how unpredictable a rosacea flare up can be. So I’m off to get a prescription for Mirvaso…why put up with painful redness when it can be soothed instantly? I hope that National Rosacea Awareness Month helps to make all fellow sufferers out there aware of help at hand because we don’t need to put up with the redness. My advice is to see your doctor now and tackle that redness!
For more advice on rosacea and interactive support from fellow sufferers and some great blogs, check out this helpful site http://www.experiencemyrosacea.co.uk