Rosacea Triggers and Stress Hormones

Rosacea is a complex system of action and reaction. For every rosacea treatment process we apply to our skin, there is a reaction. Sometimes it is an equal and opposite reaction, sometimes the reaction is far more severe than the action or symptom we were treating, and occasionally we get it right and the reaction is positive and provides an alleviation of our rosacea symptoms

One could say that Sir Isaac Newton figured it out a long time ago.

Sir Isaac Newton in his work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published on July 5, 1687 presented concepts which changed our understanding of the Universe with his Three Laws of Motion. Newton used them to explain and investigate the motion of many physical objects and systems. And this may just be useful in helping you with your ‘rosacea triggers’ and the cause & etiology of your rosacea.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states:

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This law is explains what happens if we step off a boat onto the bank of a lake: as we move in the direction of the shore, the boat tends to move in the opposite direction or leaving us face down in the water, if we aren’t careful. So this tells us that we gain some reactions in our skin that we were not expecting if we are not careful.

Nothing demonstrates this better than the pH balance of our skin. The more pH balanced our skin and body is the less reaction. Rosacea partially results from an overly acidic body and skin. The pH (potential of hydrogen ranges from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. All the rosacea triggers come from “acidic items” regardless of whether they are foods, drinks, stress hormones, or simply out of breath. We all know that if we hold our breath for 30 seconds or 60 seconds, we will all notice that our face turns pink or red. The cause is a build up of carbon dioxide, which is an “acidic” gas, and we have a shortage of oxygen. In this case carbon dioxide becomes the trigger for rosacea flushing and facial redness. Very similarly, when we exercise for a short period, we have a build up of “lactic acid”, which is a body waste of damaged, burnt or dead body cells, which is obviously acidic. Likewise, those with acne need to be very concerned about the build up of acids in our blood stream due to the foods and beverages that we consume. We all know of our triggers such as alcohol, coffee, various medications, etc. which all have a pH below 7.0 or are termed acidic. Our objective therefore should be to balance, buffer or neutralize the acids with alkaline. When our body suffers an acidic pH response, it can be a slow and gradual buildup as our skin demonstrates with our rosacea symptoms beginning with stage one rosacea involving redness that may persist for several hours or days. For some of us, it may never progress due to the fact that early on we recognize and address the core problem and cause of our rosacea. For others it can progress to stage three rosacea- namely large inflammatory nodules, furunculoid infiltrations, and tissue hyperplasia. These derangements occur particularly on the cheeks and nose, less often on the chin, forehead, or ears. The facial contours gradually become coarse, thickened, and irregular.

Among the common rosacea triggers sun exposure presents an obvious and basic reaction. When you are out in the sun without adequate protection, your skin turns red, it burns, it stings and in some cases it may blister. Some react more readily than others due to the sun sensitivity triggers such as certain medications you may be taking. Also other triggers would be the genetics fair-skinned person having a greater likelihood of being sunburned. chemicals in your sunscreen may result in a more severe reaction; on a windy day at the beach the sand blowing on your skin can have an abrasive reaction similar to the effective of sandblasting to clean a building.

Stress hormones as a rosacea trigger results in a more subliminal reaction. We may not relate our emotion responses with the condition of our skin, but the trigger for rosacea flushing is an immediate response in many cases. When someone gets very angry, his or her face may immediately become very red and flushed. The emotional response of stress on rosacea symptoms is quite defined. Flushing usually occurs when the body becomes fatigued and/or stressed which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.

Exercise flushing can trigger a rosacea response caused by the cardiovascular system pumping 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”. Too much exercise causes a lactic acid accumulation in the muscles. You can tell you’re operating over your anaerobic threshold when you begin to tire, sweat, and feel fatigued. Your heart rate will be between 80% and 90% of its maximum. Exercise can be a rosacea reactionary trigger but done properly it can become a positive action with the resulting reaction of reducing stress. To control this rosacea trigger one must find a way to minimize vascular dilation while exercising. For rosacea control the goal is to avoid turning red by learning to stay “aerobic” with oxygen.

The weather and indoor environmental conditions can also act as a rosacea trigger in the form of a flushing flare due to changing from a cold winter while coming in from the cold into a warm room. Our body circulatory system has been trying to pump blood through our system while our face is extremely cold. The room we inter into is warm during and as the face warms up, so does the previously slow blood flow resulting in a ‘warm room redness’ with a rushing of blood circulation. A somewhat similar occurrence happens when the body is at normal temperature and we take a hot shower or hot bath with resulting redness.

And most often the dry air of a hot dry climate such as the western United States, Middle Eastern countries and much of Australia have very dry air which results in moisture being ‘wicked or evaporated’ out of the body and the body. Our body will need much more water in these environments. Also all countries that may even have a normal or moist spring and summer such as the New England or NorthEast United States that has a cold winter would have very dry air resulting in the moisture being wicked or evaporated out of the body resulting in more water being needed. You will remember those dry chapped lips and sometimes dry elbows of the winter months.

Also realizing that more water is needed to stay healthy as 22% of the human bone structure is water and 96% of the eye is water and with an overall water content of 65%, we must drink the necessary water to stay healthy. Liquids other than water such as coffee, tea, alcohol, and soft drinks, etc. act as diuretics to push water out of the body cell. Therefore, in addition to rosacea, many people have more colds of a bacterial or viral nature that thrives in a dehydrated body. Likewise, those people that are dehydrated have a much higher likelihood to have cancer and many other conditions. And if you remember reading your history of the bubonic plagues, etc. most of the deaths occurred during the dry the cold winter winters when people were dehydrated. A lack of water (H2O -with two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen is needed) is the basic cause of cell death. Also water (h20) is needed for new cells regeneration as hydrogen atom keeps the cell hold the “all body cells” together, therefore it is called “hydrogen bonding”. Please look these two words up on your favorite search engine.

The purpose of medication is to alter conditions within the body to elicit a reactionary response. As we alter conditions within the body to treat one condition, there is often an equal and opposite reaction to other conditions within the body. Most medications list as a side effect, skin rash, skin redness and/or skin irritation. For a rosacea sufferer, this can act as a trigger and intensify your rosacea symptoms, so please be careful of what products you use for rosacea treatments.

Skin care products are considered a silent or unknown rosacea trigger . As an adult you may have occasional intervals of acne due to stress and hormones. To treat your adult acne you automatically turn to the ‘over the counter’ acne treatment you used on your teenage acne. As a result your skin becomes red, dry, inflamed and you have clogged pores and more acne! These acne rosacea products should have a warning label! The problem is that adult acne rosacea skin doesn’t respond the same way to these products as teenager does with acne. skin. The result is red blotchy areas, more acne rosacea and increased skin sensitivity. In trying to control the acne rosacea problems, even more and stronger treatments are used on our skin. However, instead of seeing an improvement, we actually see more damage and skin-related redness and sensitivity as the skin creates more oil to protect it from the damage and abuse of these harsh chemicals. Thus creating a vicious cycle of over-medicating the skin causing increased facial redness, clogged pores, and skin irritation.

Cosmetics contain a multitude of ingredients that can clog the pores and irritate the skin.

Astringents, which shrink the skin pores such as facial toners, witch hazel, alum, oatmeal, very cold water, and rubbing alcohol, should be avoided, as they cause the skin to contract the resulting action is clogged pores by trapping more body oils in the skin. Many soaps and cleansers contain ingredients, which can further irritate the skin. Moisturizers, which are promoted as soothing often, contain anti-wrinkle and anti-aging ingredients, which result in increased redness and skin irritation. The red colorant in cosmetics such as lipsticks and blushes is a potential rosacea trigger. Carmine extract has been used for thousands of years to provide coloring in a host of products, including foods. But, according to the consumer pressure, current labeling legislation means very few people can readily identify the ingredient. The FDA is making moves towards listing a red coloring derived from the ground bodies of female cochineal beetles on the basis that it is a potential safety hazard to a handful of individuals. Used in a spectrum of cosmetics ranging from lipstick to blusher, the move comes as pressure mounts from watch dogs and consumers to label the ingredient more clearly. Currently the FDA only requires that the ingredient is labelled as a ‘colour added’ or ‘artificial colour’, but fears over allergic reactions as well as consumer demands to be better informed if the products they buy are animal-derived are prompting the move towards change.

Food allergies as well as hot or spicy food can elicit as rosacea trigger response in the form of facial redness or allergic hives. Some foods are more inclined to create a response then others. Many patients with rosacea have other symptoms that suggest the diagnosis of food allergy. Acidic foods and acidic drinks are generally the cause of food allergies. A red nose, cheeks and red ears act like warning lights that turn on when a food reaction starts.

Hot baths are another known rosacea trigger. To prevent vascular dilation, use warm water well below 98.5 degrees on the affected areas so as not to redden the face more. Scrubbing and abrasives should be avoided, as they irritate the skin, which should be left intact as a natural barrier against bacteria. Also, try to take a short bath of approximately five minutes and minimize facial washing. Change washcloths and body towels after each use. Wash facial washcloths, pillow covers, and personal undergarments daily with Clorox to decrease rosacea-related bacterial growth. Change clothes and sheets frequently.

In the category of avoidable rosacea triggers are consumption of alcohol and smoking. Smoking depletes the body of oxygen causing an acidic response of excess carbon dioxide. As smoking causes the body and brain to be more acidic while living tissue needs to be alkaline, skin cell regeneration is slowed down tremendously. As cell regeneration slows down, our body’s healing response also slows.

Alcohol triggers a rosacea response due to the fact that alcohol dehydrates the body. All alcohol is fermented, but because beer and wines (red wine being the worst) are not further distilled, they can cause allergy redness for many rosacea sufferers. Alcohol is a diuretic, which pushes water out of the body cells, which lowers the body and brain pH. In this state of “dehydration”, the body is prone to flushing due to the low pH of alcohol.

Change is inevitable, but change is not always progressive unless we have chosen the proper course in our rosacea treatment. Often adjustments are needed in our lifestyles for progressive change as they are often the ’cause’ of rosacea as many rosacea patients have continued with the same pattern of lifestyles producing more catecholomines that produces the “alarm” to the skin. Therefore, the rosacea patient continues to face the same problems without much change. While adjustments are optional, likewise healing and survival are also optional.