Royal Flush

Rosacea has an incidence rate high enough to warrant its own national awareness month. Jessica Green investigates why, for middle-aged sufferers, the outlook isn’t so rosy.


A healthy glow is a coveted complexion bonus — not so much when it morphs into chronic, conspicuous erythema, or redness. Varying degrees of rosacea, which range from visible blood vessels and papules to ocular irritation and enlargement of the nose (think misanthropic comedian W.C. Fields), currently affect more than two million men and women across the country, according to the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (

Saskatchewan-based dermatologist Dr. Roberta McKay notes that fair-skinned 40-somethings of European and Celtic heritage are particularly susceptible, as it’s not until this point that the results of decades of environmental damage, such as blood vessel dilation due to photosensitivity, manifest themselves.

Dr. Jason Rivers, a dermatologist in Vancouver, adds that recent research links higher levels of cathelicidins — a peptide produced by the immune system to fight bacteria — with swelling, blotchiness and increased blood vessel growth.

Whether it’s genetic, environmental or even hormonal, both agree that the jury is out on the root cause — hence, the lack of curative treatment options. The good news is that it’s possible to get a grip on persistent flushing and blushing and even send redness into remission. In severe cases, talk to your dermatologist about antibiotics to mitigate bacterial-induced inflammation or about intense pulsed light (IPL). A non-laser light therapy, IPL causes a reaction that inhibits blood from flowing into the vessel, which translates to a reduction in redness. Also, from cosmeceuticals to cleansers, the drugstore can be an anti-redness mecca.

Stress is a number 1 trigger, so keep your cool. It’s just a matter of patience, experimentation and finding the right products.

1) Booster Blue Rosacea Treatment, $84, B. Kamins

2) Anti-Redness Cream, $46, Rosacure

3) Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream, $53, Clinique

4) Rosaliac Skin Perfecting Anti-Redness Moisturizer, $28, La Roche-Posay


(September 2009)