Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects individuals worldwide. In our previous blog we found out what rosacea is by identifying the different types and common symptoms. Now, it is time to find out what the potential causes of rosacea are, and what triggers you should avoid.
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Causes of Rosacea
Understanding the causes of rosacea is essential for managing the condition effectively and enhancing the quality of life for those affected.
Genetic predisposition is believed to be a key influence in the development of rosacea. Those with a family history of rosacea are four times more likely to develop the condition themselves than people without a history of the condition. Genetic variations are thought to play a role in the skin’s inflammatory response, and also contribute to the skin’s sensitivity. Therefore, some individuals are prone to symptoms as they are genetically more susceptible to rosacea.
Vascular & Immune System Abnormalities
Two key symptoms of rosacea are blood vessels within the skin dilating too easily, and inflammation of the skin. Therefore, experts believe that rosacea is associated with vascular and immune system abnormalities. Inflammation is a normal immune system response, but sufferers tend to react more strongly to triggers that might not affect others. This heightened sensitivity suggests abnormalities with the immune system. An overactive immune system may contribute to blood vessels expanding too easily, creating a cycle of redness and inflammation.
Recent research highlights the role of demodex mites in the development of rosacea. The mites are microscopic organisms that naturally live on human skin. However, the mites appear to be more abundant on the skin of individuals with rosacea compared to those without the condition. While the exact relationship between demodex mites and rosacea is still unclear, it is thought that an overreaction to the presence of these mites may contribute to the inflammatory response seen in rosacea.
While not direct causes, certain environmental factors can trigger or exacerbate rosacea symptoms. Triggers vary among individuals but commonly include:
Certain foods can cause flushing and worsen redness in individuals with rosacea. Spicy foods heat the skin and dilate blood vessels. Sufferers may also be affected after consuming dairy or foods with histamine, such as chocolate, nuts, and tomatoes.
Alcoholic beverages, while no longer thought to be a cause of rosacea, may trigger flare-ups in some people. Alcohol dilates the blood vessels, which increases redness in the face. Studies show red wine is the biggest alcoholic trigger for rosacea.
Drinks such as coffee and tea can contribute to facial redness, as the heat can cause a flare up.
Prolonged sun exposure without proper sun protection can also worsen rosacea symptoms. Just a few minutes of sunlight could lead to uncontrollable flushing and redness for some people. Dermatologists recommend that rosacea sufferers stay out of the sun during the peak hours of 11am-2pm to avoid this.
Emotional stress is known to be a common trigger for many individuals with rosacea. A study from the National Rosacea Society suggests that up to 79% of those with rosacea have symptoms flare up when stressed.