Keep calm: why the sun might be aggravating your rosacea

Rosacea and sun exposure

Last month was both the hottest and driest on record in the UK so, even if you have not able to jet off for a summer holiday yet, the intense sun and extreme temperatures will have presented a challenge for those that suffer from a sensitive skin condition such as rosacea.

In fact, in a survey carried by the National Rosacea Society (NRS), sun exposure was listed as the top trigger for rosacea flare-ups at 81%. Also listed in the top ten were hot weather, humidity and indoor heat.

How does the sun aggravate rosacea?

The severity of your flare-up will depend on your type of rosacea – sun exposure is thought to particularly aggravate the visible blood vessels (telangiectasia) and severe redness often associated with the disorder. It also depends on how long you are exposed to the sun.

One line of thought is that rosacea sufferers have higher levels of the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin in the skin. UVB exposure triggers a complex biological cascade, resulting in excessive production of this peptide which is linked to all expressions of rosacea. UVB rays are also thought to cause increased redness and flushing as the skin is heated up. Repeated flare-ups cause the tips of the capillaries to remain permanently expanded, resulting in the visible telangiectasia.

The good news is that the message about sun protection has sunk in for most rosacea sufferers. In another recent NRS survey, rosacea patients said they were vigilant about protecting their skin. Ninety-eight per cent took measures against sun exposure, with almost 85% of those using sunscreens – whether chemical-based or a physical sun block composed of zinc or titanium dioxide. Most used an SPF of 30 to 50 or more.

Dr Claudia’s advice to rosacea sufferers during the summer:

“Daily use of a non-chemical sunscreen that contains zinc or titanium dioxide and deliver UVA/UVB protection with a high SPF is a must. The general advice for rosacea sufferers is to wear at least SPF 15 but I would recommend a much higher SPF. A mineral formula which is designed for sensitive skin can help to reduce irritation.”

“Seek medical help as there are topical solutions and oral antibiotics that can help. Prescription creams and gels can alleviate mild to moderate rosacea symptoms, but for more severe cases, you may be prescribed oral antibiotics. However, there are contraindications for these medications and patience is often required to see any results.”

“Unfortunately, there is no cure for rosacea, but clients have seen great results with Dermalux LED phototherapy. This therapy is non-invasive, pain-free with no downtime and uses pure light to stimulate the skin’s repair processes. It reduces the symptoms of rosacea by combining all three light wavelengths. LED Red soothes redness and irritation; LED Blue is a powerful antibacterial light; and Near Infra-Red relieves pain and inflammation to produce a more even skin tone.”

For more advice on managing rosacea all year round, call 0115 772 2363 to arrange a consultation.