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Sensitive Skin Solutions

By: Lydia Sarfati
Posted: August 26, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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It is not entirely known what causes rosacea, but it is carried on genetically and is most common in fair-skinned individuals, occurring more often in women than men. Rosacea flareups are usually triggered by external factors that cause blood vessels to dilate, such as alcohol use, sun exposure, stress and spicy foods. The leading factors of rosacea include the following.

  • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGE). VEGE is the creation of blood vessels caused by heat and sun exposure, and it may cause spider veins.
  • Demodex. People who suffer from rosacea are more susceptible to mites known as Demodex. The bacterial flora that live on mites causes rosacea by secreting the enzyme that helps to eat food from the skin.
  • Lipase. Lipase is an irritating enzyme that helps breakdown lipids. The Demodex mites secrete this enzyme resulting in irritation and redness.

Although there is no cure for rosacea, there is treatment. As an esthetician, it is a good idea to work with a dermatologist when treating more severe cases of rosacea. A physician can prescribe medications, including antibiotic creams and pills, to address redness, pimples and eye problems. Red bumps on the nose normally do not respond well to antibiotics. Isotretinoin and tretinoin can be prescribed, as well as other topical medications that are used to treat acne. Surgery, such as dermabrasion, cryosurgery and laser surgery, can help treat the cosmetic effects of advanced rosacea.

Additionally, there are steps to take to help prevent initial rosacea flareups. Identifying your clients’ triggers is extremely important, and avoiding the catalysts will help prevent the results. See Common Rosacea Triggers.

In addition to consulting with a physician, estheticians can practice the following precautions when working with clients who suffer from rosacea:

  • Avoid heat, steam and sunlight.
  • Avoid vasodilators and irritants.
  • Avoid stimulating massage movements.
  • Avoid flushing and blushing agents, such as AHAs and retinol.
  • Introduce nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as chamomile and tea blends.
  • Limit ingredients and use the same line. 
  • Choose multifunctional products.
  • Recommend sunscreen with a physical barrier, such as titanium and zinc.
  • Use cooling treatments, such as freeze-dried facials, cold compresses and cool mists.

In addition to these techniques, it is important to provide gentle, cooling treatments. Try using an atomizer with a few drops of an antioxidant-rich toner for a cooling mist that’s very hydrating and soothing for clients. Implement lymphatic massage to reduce swelling and inflammation in order to detoxify and purify the skin. Apply light effleurage movements, and avoid unnecessary massage and rubbing of the face.