Rosacea Redness, Flushing & Blushing

Rosacea blushing, redness and flushing is caused by stress, foods and beverages as rosacea triggers the sympathetic nervous system to react

Rosacea patients have more facial blood vessels than the average person and their blood vessels are severely damaged. The result is that the facial vessels are constricted due to the swelling or inflammation. There are various factors that cause rosacea facial vessels to dilate or contract. Our goal is to treat rosacea and help you understand the most common causes of vascular dilation and resulting blushing, flushing & redness and what you can do about it.

Blushing, Redness & Flushing Involves Many Physiological Systems As Shown Below:

“Clock Rosacea” or Systemic Flushing & Blushing

Clock rosacea is rosacea redness caused by your body’s internal clock. Many of us experience a drop in energy around mid-afternoon every day and may reach for that high energy snack. Hospital physicians have known for years that the lowest body temperature of the 24 hour day is usually around 3:00 to 4:00 A.M. while the highest temperature of the day is generally 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. The high energy boost may also contribute to increased flushing – see: Heavy Meal Flushing, Sugar/Carbohydrate Redness. Can we control our internal clock? Yes. Strive to maintain a consistent pH balance and identify other flushing factors listed below.

Heavy Meal Flushing, Sugar/Carbohydrate Redness

sugar and carbohydrate cause redness

This flushing or vascular dilation is caused by more stress on the digestive system resulting in a higher blood flow to the digestive system with the residual blood being heavier to the face. Three small meals with breakfast being the most important and grazing or snacks in between is better for limiting this kind of flushing and redness. This will maintain the proper blood sugar content for energy to prevent fatigue or exhaustion. The type of food that you eat is also very important as various foods stimulate blood flow differently.

  • Simple carbohydrates such as donuts, sugars, alcohol, etc. (which are very acidic with a low pH) enter the blood stream quickly causing hyperglycemia (high glucose spikes.)
  • Carbohydrates are needed for energy and as a part of every meal; however, let’s try to enjoy the baked potatoes, beans, corn, apples (fruit but still a carbohydrate), etc. as part of your rosacea diet instead of simple carbohydrates.
  • Fiber (with a higher pH or “alkaline foods”) intake decreases the amount of food that the stomach has at one time and prolongs digestion; therefore, it prevents the sudden influx into the blood stream with the resultant flushing. This results from a “better rosacea diet.”
  • The proteins of most fruits and vegetables provide the body and brain with many nutrients with a high pH that are needed to repair the body and facial tissue for the best “rosacea diet” while carbohydrates are needed for energy and is most often stored as fat.

Steroid Flushing & Redness

When a rosacea patient is erroneously treated for a prolonged time with topical steroids, the disorder may at first respond, but inevitably the signs of steroid atrophy emerge with thinning of the skin and marked increase in telangiectasis. The complexion becomes dark red with a copper-like hue. Soon the surface becomes studded with round, follicular, deep papulopustules, firm nodules, and even secondary comedones. The appearance is shocking with a flaming redness, scaling, papule-covered face. Steroid rosacea is an ‘avoidable condition’ which, in addition to disfigurement, is accompanied by severe discomfort, and pain. Withdrawal of the steroid treatment is inevitably accompanied by exacerbation of the disease, a trying experience for a patient and physician. (Dr. Gerd Plewig and Albert Kligman). Always avoid steroids or cortisones for any purpose. If you are on them now, get off as quickly as possible as the body and skin continue to be further addicted to steroids or cortisones for any medical purpose. Most dermatologists know not to prescribe a steroid for the treatment of rosacea.

For information on steroid use, please see First World Congress of the International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Adrenaline Blushing & Redness

This kind of vascular dilation is caused by an adrenaline rush or a large supply of adrenaline under pressure with immediate or instant flushing. It is the same as sympathetic nerves, but it is hormone released. Stress is the body’s reaction to a perceived threat. Adrenaline and hormones are released, and the nervous system is activated, sharpening our senses, but simultaneously our pulse rises, our muscles tense and our immune system begins to shut down.

Those that cannot relieve stress as needed may experience fatigue, upset stomach, frequent headaches, and a flushing face. Long-term stress can contribute to family breakdown, job fatigue, with resulting long-term health problems such as depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and rosacea.

Acne is adrenal related, in both men and women as a reaction to mental stress or body stress. In women, testosterone is produced by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Obviously, estrogen regulates and balances the amount of testosterone produced by the ovaries, but when the estrogen level drops several days before the menstrual periods, sometimes resulting acne occurs especially when the adrenal glands over produce due to stress or fatigue. The adrenal glands can be stressed continually in both men and women resulting in too much testosterone with the resulting over stimulation of the sebaceous glands. These glands produce testosterone directly or via peripheral conversion of DHEAS (dihydropiandrosterone sulfate),DHEA (dihydroepiandrosterone), and androstenedione which are the three major adrenal androgens. Similarly, in the male an overabundance of testicular testosterone especially with overly stimulated adrenal glands causes the overly stimulated sebaceous glands. Quite often more stress is placed on the adult after puberty resulting in over active sebaceous glands. While we can not produce more estrogen to level out the testosterone, we can drink much more water which will help relieve stress and assist both acne and rosacea. Getting enough sleep and finding ways to relax will help relieve stress and reduce the adrenaline reaction that follows.

Exercise Flushing & Redness

The cardiovascular system pumps harder and faster due to exercise with the resulting ‘lactic acid being given off from the muscles’ and facial vascular dilation or a “rosacea red face”. Our desire is to minimize vascular dilation while exercising.

Exercise should be enjoyed and performed moderately in a cool area keeping the body well hydrated with “alkaline water” to avoid or minimize “rosacea redness”. It’s best to adapt slowly over time to the exercise so that the body is aerobic (with oxygen) instead of anaerobic (without oxygen causing redness – you remember when you tried holding your breath for just 30 seconds with the result of your facial skin immediately turning pink or red.) Therefore, you can handle more vigorous exercise as your exercise training increases. Better cardiovascular shape and exercise means more oxygen in the blood and more oxygen in the blood constricts vessels. This is simply a good “rosacea exercise diet.”

There are a myriad of benefits of water for exercise and metabolic waste build up of acid. Water is absolutely necessary for strong, flexible plasma membranes of all cells.

Cigarette Flushing & Redness

Smoking, a vascular dilator, depletes the skin of vitamin C (essential for the formation of collagen), accelerates the cross linkage of collagen and the hardening of elastin and creates a trillion free radicals destroying the capillary structure. Smoking, which robs the skin of oxygen, is a potent initiator of telangiectasis. The smoker may have a variety of medical problems such as high blood pressure and mineral deficiencies which can cause the appearance of telangiectasis. All tobacco products are very “acidic with a very low pH of about 2.0 to 2.5″ that sometimes results in oral cancer and lung cancer. The overall body and brain pH should be around 7.4 for healthy tissue, brain, and body functioning.

Consider what cigarette smoking does to the lungs. The lung tissue is less pliable, receiving less oxygen. A similar thing happens overall to the skin with the epidermis being less pliable and receiving less oxygen with the result being that the “Marlboro Man” has more wrinkles. More important the blood vessels are not as pliable and receive less oxygen, therefore compounding the problem. Stopping smoking is the answer for vascular constriction and is in itself a ‘rosacea treatment’ or a ‘rosacea diet’.

Stress Flushing & Redness

(a little difficult yet very helpful)

Flushing & Redness usually occurs when the body becomes fatigued and/or stressed which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Any activation of these nerves causes ‘constriction of our body blood vessels’ except in the ‘facial blush/flush areas’ where it induces strong dilatation or flushing with the resulting rosacea red face.

A typical rosacea sufferer would blush in the fifth grade even if the answer was known when the teacher asked a question, and obviously the flushing would be noticed by the other kids. The sympathetic nervous system reacts:

  • Stress stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
  • Lack of sleep stimulates the sympathetic nervous system with a minimum of 8 hours being needed for most.
  • Anxiety at work or home (fight or flight) stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
  • An increase in internal body temperature stimulates the sympathetic nervous system when ‘acid drinks, foods, and cigarettes or any rosacea triggers are consumed.

Rosacea patient’s skin gives off easily detectable heat from the redness that can be picked up with infrared cameras including inexpensive cameras that can be purchased at Walmart and many sporting goods stores as sportsmen and the military have used them for years. Of course the patient’s facial rosacea would provide by far more heat that is obviously visible in a 100% dark room or very dark night than a person without rosacea. And more recently, more cameras can be used in medical technology to detect cancer as more heat is given off the cancer growth. And the rosacea skin can be seen more easily by an infrared camera or an infrared pair of binoculars than the rest of their body or that of a person without facial rosacea. The Japanese scientists are seemingly the most advanced as their cameras can locate a single photons. And of course the body heat given off from the body and the rosacea patients has the low and high points of the day depending on the person’s sleep pattern and intake of foods and drinks. The body clock’s metabolic rhythms change throughout the day.

The sympathetic nervous system activates more quickly in rosacea patients who have one or more of the following:

  • Genetically weak blood vessels.
  • Damaged blood vessels from years of sun.
  • Damaged support system for blood vessels (collagen-elastic of skin) and a damaged immune system.
  • Increased number of blood vessels to years of inappropriate skin care and rosacea treatments.

Please Continue to Page 2