is an inflammatory condition of facial skin characterised by redness, lumps and bumps and broken blood vessels known as telangiectasia.
I am not going to dwell on the science behind the condition and you can read about that in detail with reliable and quality information on rosacea by clicking here.
I am going to talk about the history of Rosacea, possible triggers for this condition and you could read about the huge psychological impact on the sufferers, eloquently described by the British Skin Foundation’s new ambassador, Talonted Lex in her Blog. Also I am going to talk about the mind and skin association which could be a cause for several skin conditions and we have failed to understand these skin conditions fully.
Rosacea as a condition has been described in the writings of the Roman Poets, especially where the reference has been to red noses. Greek history has also mention of red large noses and its relation to the intake of wine.
A French poet has described a large nose surrounded by large walls and being dyed in vermillion. Few authors historically have alluded to Shakespeare’s picture of Bardolph’s face (Henry IV, Pt. I, Act III, Sc. iii; and Henry V, Act III, SC. vi) whilst describing Rosacea.1
The famous painting of Rhinophyma (thick bulbous nose seen in rosacea) by Ghirlandajo (1449-1494) in the Louvre is another example of Rosacea being recognised early in the history. 1
A majority of medical writers in the eighteenth century attributed the cause of Rosacea with inappropriate indulgence in wine. Even in those times, there were people who did not subscribe to alcohol as such an important causative factor for Rosacea and refuted this by saying that they have categorically seen it in the most “Temperate and Abstemious.” J.J Plenck, who is one of the more important dermatological authors, even goes to say that he actually cured some of the patients by persuading them to drink wine.1
There is also mention of treating telangiectasia, which are the dilated blood vessels seen in this condition using electrolysis and even some extreme measures such as slicing these vessels and then cauterising them using pointed silver nitrate sticks ( cautery is using silver nitrate chemical to literally burn off the blood vessel).2
Also important to mention that historically Rosacea and Acne were thought to be presentations of the same condition but we now believe that they are two separate entities.
The commonly known triggers are wind, hot and cold temperatures, exercise, spicy foods, alcohol, hot drinks, and physical or psychological stress. Use of topical steroids can make rosacea worse.
Apart from the known triggers and especially considering psychological stress, I strongly believe that one should consider in the inflammatory conditions of skin, a role of the relationship between the body and mind. Our autonomic nervous system which I believe is controlled by the subconscious mind and has a powerful influence on how many of these conditions manifest on our skin and not just skin but other parts of the body. So it is all the more important to look at the relationship between our subconscious mind and skin especially if you have at some point or are currently suffering with one or more of the following conditions for some time without being diagnosed with a firm diagnosis of an underlying tissue disease producing the symptoms.
Migraines and or tension headaches
Back, neck or Limb Pain
Anxiety or Panic attacks
Tinnitus (Whistling in the ear)
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
If you have suffered with one or more of the above conditions for some time and no underlying cause has been established, then one needs to consider the role of autonomic nervous system or the subconscious mind being a possible causative factor including the skin conditions. The autonomic nervous system is the human control system which is responsible to maintain those functions of the body which happen without a conscious recognition and do not require a conscious effort by us, for example maintaining body temperature or digestion of food. It is easier to understand this if you consider the fact that skin is a reflection of your intense emotional states. You could profusely sweat in an anxious state or you could blush when embarrassed or go pale if it is fear, your mouth may be dry and also butterflies in the stomach. All these emotional responses are controlled by the autonomic nervous system.
Skin conditions that could be related to the brain skin axis.
Recurrent herpes infections
Recurrent erythema multiforme
We still do not have enough information to understand the mechanism through which the autonomic nervous system would produce the symptoms and though not being produced due to tissue disease, the symptoms are quite real and have huge impact on the quality of life of the sufferers. To treat the symptoms being produced or aggravated by the autonomic nervous system, the first step is to recognise that the problem is due to underlying psychological stress or issues in past or present life. Once this is accepted, usually it is enough to improve the symptoms dramatically because the subconscious mind then does not have a reason to cause the symptoms which are being produced to take the focus away from the unpleasantness of the underlying psychological issues.
Hence if you feel that you can relate to the above text please try this and see if it improves your symptoms of Rosacea.
What else is there for self help
Apart from the pharmaceutical treatment described here, one needs to moisturise the skin regularly but avoiding greasy moisturisers. Sun exposure leads to release of free radicals which makes the inflammation worse, hence using a sunscreen that suits your skin will help rosacea. Also it goes without saying that it is important to avoid the triggers.
I will write about the use of cosmetic camouflage in Rosacea and related conditions soon.
- A Note on the Early History of Rosacea. By J. D. ROLLESTON, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine (Now: Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine) Vol: 26 (4) 1933 Page: 327-9
- Acne, its etiology, pathology and treatment : a practical treatise based on the study of one thousand five hundred cases of sebaceous disease by Bulkley, Lucius Duncan, 1845-1928