I figured out that I had rosacea in the most 21st-century way ever. From Twitter, of course.
The best thing about adult acne is nothing.
— Carly Ledbetter (@ledbettercarly) April 14, 2014
Lo and behold, my tweet was met with responses from people sharing in my pain and asking me questions about my skincare routine and symptoms.
And thus began the first of many Google deep-dives into the subject. After reading more about general skin problems, I found that I fit under the "rosacea" category more than the "acne" one. My skin did get super red in cold and hot weather, it felt itchy all the time and certain foods and drinks (my beloved wine, curses!) did seemingly trigger flare-ups and discomfort.
I frantically searched for any and all rosacea information, finding out what I could from message boards (thanks Reddit!), the celebrity spokesperson who sympathized most (Cynthia Nixon), and how much money it would cost to have my face lasered off (a lot).
Since diagnosing myself on the internet would only get me so far, I emailed with New York City-based dermatologist and psychiatrist Dr. Amy Wechsler to get the low-down from a trusted source. I started with the basics.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a skin condition that commonly affects adults after the age of about 30, and is characterized by redness on the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. Some people also develop a ruddy appearance with visible blood vessels, and they may also develop pimples in the red area. Rosacea can have acne with it, called acne rosacea. It can also affect the eyes, making them irritated and watery.
What is the difference between rosacea and acne?
The biggest difference is that rosacea does have acne, while acne does not have the extra blood vessels (called telangiectasias).
When does rosacea typically develop?
Rosacea usually appears in adults over the age of 30. While it is occasionally seen in teens and children, it is very uncommon. If left untreated over time, rosacea sufferers may be left with visible blood vessels in addition to more "persistent redness."
Are there certain things you should avoid if you have rosacea?
There are a variety of factors that can exacerbate the condition, including sun exposure, alcohol and spicy foods.
What do you recommend for treatment?
Your dermatologist can help you select the best plan for your specific type of rosacea, but a few common treatments include topical retinoids, creams and oral antibiotics aimed at decreasing redness, inflammation and bumps.
Absolutely. Lasers are a mainstay of rosacea treatment along with other treatments. The lasers can be used to remove the visible blood vessels and reduce redness. Talk with your dermatologist about whether this would be a fit for you, as other factors including skin tone, sun exposure and time of year can have an impact.
Are there any over-the-counter remedies you recommend?
Mild acne over-the-counter treatments can help with pimples, and redness can be masked with concealer, but the best option is to visit your dermatologist and together come up with a plan that works for you.
What kind of moisturizers and sunscreens do you suggest someone with rosacea uses?
Avoid anything that may be irritating to the skin, such as fragrances and abrasive ingredients. Also always be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Can you still wear makeup with rosacea?
Yes, but look for lightweight formulations that are oil-free. Some concealers with a greenish tint to them will help to offset the red appearance. Be sure to always remove makeup and wash your face completely at the end of the day to avoid irritation, breakouts and other issues.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.