Rosacea and Your Pregnancy

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Rosacea is a common skin condition that can cause flushing of the face, redness, outbreaks that look like acne, and visible blood vessels. Like many conditions, it can start or get worse during pregnancy.

Although rosacea can look similar to acne, it is not acne. It does have a few things in common with acne, however. Both are inflammatory conditions of the skin and both can flare up and subside at times.

Rosacea usually occurs over the cheeks and nose, although the chin and forehead may also be affected.

The causes of rosacea are not known exactly, but probably include heredity and environmental factors such as where you live and what you eat. Rosacea tends to run in families. it is more common in people with fair skin, but it affects those with dark skin as well.

Certain factors are known to make rosacea worse. These include hot or spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, temperature extremes, sun exposure, exposure to wind, some cosmetic products, and drugs that dilate your blood vessels.

Pregnancy can cause rosacea to get worse. This may be due to the stresses that accompany pregnancy and also due to hormonal changes, in the same way that hormonal changes can bring on acne outbreaks during pregnancy. Some women develop rosacea for the first time during pregnancy.

There are several types of rosacea. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea causes redness, flushing, stinging or sensitivity, and visible blood vessels. Papulopustular rosacea involves redness, swelling of the skin, oiliness, and breakouts that look like acne. Phymatous rosacea causes the skin to thicken and become bumpy, and often affects the nose. Ocular rosacea causes eyes that are red and irritated, with swollen eyelids.

There is no cure for rosacea, but there are treatments that can control the redness and outbreaks and help prevent the skin from being damaged permanently. If rosacea is left untreated enlarged blood vessels on the cheeks and face can become more prominent, a condition called “gin blossoms” because they were once thought to be due to excessive alcohol consumption. Skin may also become thickened permanently. The more your skin becomes flushed the worse rosacea can become. Treatments for rosacea can also help ease any discomfort and sensitivity that you may have.

The best treatment option is prevention; finding out what triggers your rosacea flares and trying to avoid those triggers. Anything that causes your skin to get red or flush can be a trigger.  Common triggers include getting windburned, being exposed to the sun, becoming overheated, and eating food spicy enough to cause you to flush. For some people, certain ingredients in cosmetics and other products can cause a flare. Many people react to hairspray, for example. Alcohol consumption can also cause a flare.

Sensitivity to the sun is often a problem with rosacea. An important way to prevent flares is to use a good sunscreen all the time and avoid exposure to the sun during midday. Wear a broad-brimmed hat when you are outside to help protect your face.

Because skin affected by rosacea can be very sensitive, avoid any harsh skin treatments or skin care products. Avoid using skin care products that have alcohol as an ingredient. Don’t scrub your face harshly. Treat your skin as gently as possible and use a gentle moisturizer.

If you have any of the symptoms of rosacea, see a dermatologist. He or she will examine your skin and ask you some questions. There is no test specifically for diagnosing rosacea, but your dermatologist may run tests that will help eliminate other skin conditions, such as lupus.

Your dermatologist may prescribe creams or gels that help control the redness of your skin. If you have bumps and pimples due to rosacea, you may also be prescribed oral antibiotics.

Valerie DeBenedette
Valerie DeBenedette is an experienced health and medical writer who lives about an hour north of New York City with a dog that is smaller than her cat. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and on websites. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

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