What Is Rosacea?

Millions of Americans experience rosacea—a chronic, acne-like disorder. Affecting more women than men, rosacea typically first appears between the ages of 30-60 years old. It cannot be cured, but it can be treated and controlled.

Rosacea begins as a flushing or redness on the face and can progress to spidery blood vessels that appear on the nose, cheeks, chin, or forehead. Overtime, the redness becomes ruddier and more persistent. If rosacea is not treated, bumps and pimples can develop. In advances cases, the nose may become swollen from excess tissue. This is known as rhinophyma. In the so-called ocular rosacea, eyes may feel dry and irritated.

Flare-ups and Triggers

People who have rosacea usually experience flare-ups followed by remissions. Flare-ups can sometimes be traced to certain environmental or lifestyle factors that serve as triggers. Some of the more common triggers include:

  • Sun exposure
  • Emotional stress
  • Hot or cold weather
  • Wind
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Heavy exercise
  • Hot baths
  • Heated beverages
  • Irritating cosmetics and other toiletries

A Flare-up in the Kitchen

A study conducted by the National Rosacea Society asked more than 500 rosacea sufferers about their flare-ups. Almost 80% reported that cooking had caused their rosacea to flare-up. Some kitchen activities cited as culprits were:

  • Being in an over-heated kitchen
  • Feeling the heat from a hot oven
  • Boiling or steaming foods
  • Cooking over a hot stovetop
  • Cooking for long periods of time

Don't Throw in the Apron Just Yet

But having rosacea doesn't mean you have to stay out of the kitchen. Taking precautions while cooking can help prevent flare-ups.

In the same survey cited above, respondents listed preventive measures that had worked successfully for them. They included:

  • Drink cool liquids
  • Run air conditioning
  • Use a fan
  • Prepare some dishes in advance
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes
  • Chew on ice chips
  • Dab face and neck with a damp cloth
  • Have minimal lights on
  • Draw curtains or shades to keep direct sunlight out
  • Use microwave oven whenever possible

Since rosacea cannot be cured, learning techniques like these to help control flare-ups is the first step to living with rosacea.