This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.
Pink cheeks are usually seen as a sign of health because they indicate a good circulation, but they can also be due to the skin condition called rosacea. This progressive disorder causes facial redness, usually on the forehead, nose, chin and cheeks – and affects about one in ten people, often fair-skinned, according to consultant dermatologist Dr Edward Seaton, an expert in rosacea. ‘Sun exposure is the biggest cause, but red flushing can be triggered by a range of different factors, including food and drink,’ he says.
Rosacea can be tricky to diagnose and treat, especially in the early stages, as it covers a wide spectrum of symptoms, varying greatly in intensity. The key symptoms of true rosacea are flushing (an increase in blood flow to the surface skin) which lasts from ten to 20 minutes or longer, persistent redness, and in some cases ‘acne-type bumps and pustules – but they’re not acne,’ says Dr Seaton. (There’s a useful page on his website, londondermatologist.co.uk)
Also, as Dr Nick Lowe of the Cranley Clinic (drnicklowe.com) points out, ‘there are lots of causes for red faces, including hot baths and drinks, your genetic make-up and conditions such as seborrheic eczema, so ask to see a GP with training in dermatology, or a referral to a dermatologist.’
A few months ago, a colleague noticed ‘a slight brown/red mark on my nose as if I’d caught the sun – though I hadn’t’. There were other changes: at 48, Sally’s previously normal skin had become dryer with an oily T-zone, and her cheeks were rosy and felt ‘wind-chapped’. She found blackheads and open pores. Then, after a long hot bath, she saw ‘a more pronounced, red and inflamed patch on my nose’.
Her GP thought it might be the beginning of rosacea and prescribed Rosex gel, an antibiotic that’s used in cases of rosacea for its anti-inflammatory action. After two weeks’ use, Sally’s face was even drier, so she consulted Elaine Robinson, an aesthetician (skincare therapist) for Dr Hauschka, the German natural skincare line that has a longheld reputation with problem skins (drhauschka.co.uk). Elaine suggested a combination of gentle products designed for ageing and sensitive skin. The morning routine included Cleansing Cream, followed by Rose Day Cream; night-time, Sally uses Cleansing Milk followed by Rhythmic Night Conditioner ‘N’ to normalise the skin’s oil and moisture production. After six weeks, she’s delighted: ‘my skin looks and feels better, no longer too oily or too dry but “balanced”; the open pores and blackheads are less noticeable and the pigmentation on my nose is fading.’
In general, Dr Seaton advises people in such early stages to concentrate on skincare rather than prescribing them Rosex. ‘I suggest a “bland” brand such as Cetaphil or Avene, with a gel-based cleanser, nothing drying or astringent [so no alcohol-based toner]. A daily moisturiser is vital: let it sink in for a few minutes then apply a sun block daily from April to September. I recommend La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF50. If things don’t improve, using appropriate prescription creams and even tablets can be extremely helpful.’
I’ve also heard excellent reports of Clinique’s Redness Solutions range (clinique.co.uk), and Dr Lowe’s Redness Relief Cream (from Boots, where bigger stores have trained skincare advisors to discuss your needs). A neighbour with rosacea swears by Pukka Herbs Organic Rosewater Spray, £10.95 for 100ml, from Victoria Health. Nude Skincare calms my super-sensitive skin and occasional fuchsia-toned cheeks (find Nude at Victoria Health).
Avoid the Risk of a Stroke
Atrial fibrillation (AF) – where the heart beats irregularly – leads to a substantially increased risk of stroke, according to the Stroke Association’s Ask First campaign, which is supported by ITV Daybreak’s Dr Hilary Jones. AF is the cause of about 12,500 strokes each year, many of which could be prevented if the condition was diagnosed and treated earlier. It’s much more common in older people but can affect all ages. ‘People with AF may feel their heart beating fast, and experience breathlessness, chest pain and fatigue, but some may have no indication so it’s important that people asks their GP or nurse to check their pulse. If it’s irregular, you may be referred for more tests to check for AF,’ says Dr Jones. Stroke Association, stroke.org.uk, tel 0303 3033 100.
Sweet Talk, Naturally
Artificial sweeteners (eg aspartame and saccharin) have been shown to increase appetite – so not really much good for dieters! Skincare guru Liz Earle prefers to use xylitol, a natural sweetener, which reduces the risk of tooth decay and supports bones. Try Perfect Sweet, £2.72 for 225g from Victoria Health.
Website of the week: birthtofive.net
The first five years are crucial in a child’s development and early learning, according to a recent government review of the Early Years Foundation Stage. This website, from education consultant and accredited early years inspector Margaret Julia Goodchild, offers a wealth of information, including a straightforward book, Helping Your Child To Learn from Birth To Five, £4.99.