If you saw someone in the street with a red and blotchy face, what would you think? That they were embarrassed, suffering from some kind of disease, or simply weren’t looking after themselves properly? Shockingly, a recent nationwide study by dermatology experts Galderma has found that we’re collectively less likely to believe a person with a reddened face would be married, have a lot of friends or held a managerial position at work than a fresh-faced counterpart, purely because of our perception of their skin. Rosacea is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that’s known to impact around 10% of people in the UK – but even with it affecting such a huge percentage of the population, it still carries with it negative connotations and a huge amount of stigma. Symptoms of rosacea include persistent facial redness, small visible blood vessels, bumps and pimples on the skin’s surface, dryness, skin thickening and a burning or stinging sensation, but they can differ from person to person. Although the exact cause is unknown, there are certain triggers (including sunlight, changes in temperature, stress, exercise, alcohol, caffeine, spicy food and ingredients in certain skincare products) which can be controlled in order to manage the condition, but it’s never fully possible to prevent a flare-up. As the symptoms associated with rosacea appear predominately on the face, the psychological impact can be far greater than the physical; those diagnosed with the condition are often impacted emotionally and experience social stigmas, such as those outlined above. So, would you make friends with a red-faced woman – or would you just pass her by?
Unfortunately rosacea is a poorly understood condition and one that often gets
misdiagnosed as acne, eczema, allergies or sunburn; this leads to a real
lack of conversation or sense of community, where sufferers can turn to for support and advice. It’s much easier for those with chronic acne, eczema or dermatitis to connect with others online, but for individuals dealing with rosacea it’s often a journey they have to make alone. Thankfully, a new hub from the people behind Cetaphil (the best-selling skincare range that’s been designed with sensitive skin types in mind, including those with rosacea) aims to make that a thing of the past: experiencemyrosacea.co.uk is a brand new online destination where anyone dealing with rosacea (or wanting to find out more about the condition) can visit to share and discover content by others in a similar situation. Experience My Rosacea (supported by Dr Dawn Harper who you may recognise from Channel 4’s ‘Embarrassing Bodies’) is an incredibly positive campaign that aims not only to raise awareness and challenge common misconceptions, but to provide support where it’s often needed most.
Right now the hub includes some great pieces of content, advice and storytelling from bloggers that are dealing with rosacea themselves on a daily basis – but the aim is to make it a complete destination that includes all the information anyone may need, both pre and post diagnosis. I love the idea of this hub and think it’s long overdue, which is why I’m supporting it wholeheartedly. You may spot the post that the fabulous Lex wrote for me a little while ago, as well as some of her other great pieces which share her struggles in an incredibly helpful way. To celebrate the launch of the campaign, makeup artist Sarah Jagger (who also suffers from rosacea) took to the streets of London with her rosacea symptoms on show (she actually exacerbated them a little to demonstrate a ‘bad’ day) to see what the impact would be. Would people stare or snigger? Would she feel self-conscious and embarrassed? Or would nobody actually pay any attention whatsoever, proving that we can look beyond the surface and concentrate on the skin beneath? In summary, people really didn’t notice as much as you may think they did – and interestingly very few had a clear understanding of what rosacea is, demonstrating that there is a really low level of public awareness.
I can’t wait to share the video of Sarah’s experience with you soon (I’ll add it into this post as soon as it’s available!) but in the meantime Dr Dawn Harper has provided some great advice if you’re suffering from rosacea:
1. BOOK AN APPOINTMENT. There’s such a misunderstanding of the different types of skin conditions; Dr Google is not your friend, so make sure you visit your GP and discuss it with them directly.
2. SEE THE RIGHT PERSON. It’s important to see someone in your doctors surgery with a specific interest in skin conditions. Receptionists are bound by the same confidentiality standards and they will know the best person to see in your GP practice; speak to them!
3. GO BACK FOR MORE. Your GP will assume treatment has worked if you don’t come back. Always book a follow up appointment if the situation hasn’t changed. Also, treatments are changing all the time; just because something didn’t work five years ago it doesn’t mean there’s not an alternative today.
As a makeup artist and rosacea sufferer, Sarah has also shared some of her top tips for looking after rosacea prone skin:
1. Use cleansers and moisturisers suited to sensitive skin types. I recommend using a fragrance-free, soap-free cleanser and a fragrance-free, non-comedogenic (doesn’t block pores) moisturiser
2. If you do feel more comfortable using foundation to minimise redness, look for a foundation that is suited to your skin type. I recommend looking for formula’s that offers medium to full coverage (this will help minimise the visual symptoms of rosacea, ) are hypoallergenic, oil-free, fragrance-free and contain sun protection 3. My advice for applying foundation on rosacea-prone skin, is to use a clean foundation brush and gently apply a light layer of foundation all over face. For particularly red areas (such as the nose and cheeks,) use a small dense brush to gently apply more foundation or concealer over the affected areas. Softly blend into the skin using your index finger being careful to blur out the edges. Set using a translucent, non-irritating powder for longevity.
If you suffer with rosacea and want to share your story, please do submit any blog posts to the experiencemyrosacea.co.uk hub, or start a conversation across social media using the hashtag #ExperienceMyRosacea. Until we normalise rosacea, raise awareness and beat down stigmas, men and women across the UK will be worrying that all you see is their redness – rather than the fabulous person beneath. To those of us that don’t have rosacea it can be hard to understand, but this quote from Dr Dawn sums it up perfectly: “Never trivialise a skin condition. To the individual, it’s confidence draining as they have to wear their face daily. It doesn’t matter if people are staring at you, or you feel people are staring at you; the impact is the same.”
For more information on rosacea, and to discover more posts from those suffering with the condition, check out the new hub: experiencemyrosacea.co.uk
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Galderma; all opinions are my own. Rosacea is still an incredibly important topic to discuss and I hope this helps open up conversations.
Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.