Rosacea induced by Anti-Aging & Acne Treatments

Rosacea can result from the abuse to the skin caused by acne and anti-aging products or treatments that have been applied to the patient’s skin. To examine traditional acne treatments more closely, we need to first examine what it is that we are actually applying to our skin.

We often believe in treating skin symptoms of acne, redness, itching or dryness that what has worked well in the past will work well now. But over time as we age so does our skin and it goes through changes in how it handles and reacts to the treatments we may have used with success in the past. For example, teenage acne treatments that may have produced results for you as a teenager will be too harsh for more mature skin with the result being additional acne breakouts, increased facial redness, more skin irritation and an increase in oil production in the facial areas where the treatment has been applied.

Problematic Acne Treatments

Benzoyl peroxide comes in many forms under a variety of trade names. It is the #1 topical treatment additive used for the treatment of acne lesions. Benzoyl peroxide works through an oxygen-releasing chemical process that creates a drying effect on oily skin, as it dries the skin, it aids in sloughing off or peeling the skin, and has an antibacterial effect on the skin. The release of oxygen is the mechanism of action that works to reduce the number of anaerobic bacteria present in the skin follicles. The peeling and drying effects help to open up the pores, to dry the acne pus filled vesicles and open up the white heads and black heads. Too strong a concentration of Benzoyl peroxide can result in blistering of the skin, skin irritation, the feeling of burning on the skin, skin crusting, severe redness of the skin, itching, and skin rash.

The International Rosacea Foundation mentions these precautions when using benzoyl peroxide based products –

During the first few weeks of use, many users comment that the skin may get worse before it gets better.

Avoid topically only, avoid contact with the mouth, lips and eyes. Do not apply Benzoyl peroxide on the neck, on the inside of the nose, anywhere in or around the lips and eyes. When applying, spread the treatment away from the central portion of the face and if it should come in contact with the eyes, lips or mouth, immediately wash the area thoroughly with water.

Do not apply to skin that is sunburned, wind burned, sensitive due to light or laser therapy, or to open wounds.

Do prevent additional damage to your skin, avoid applying Benzoyl peroxide to any skin surface in which you are also applying another topically applied skin product or acne product containing an anti-aging, anti-wrinkle or peeling agent such as sulfur, resorcinol, retin-a, AHA, BHA, salicylic acid, or tretinoin.

Avoid using with hair dyes, and hair removal creams and lotions.

Avoid using Benzoyl peroxide based products with other products containing astringents, large amounts of alcohol, shaving creams, after shave lotions or gels, or skin products containing spices or lemon or lime.

Use of benzoyl peroxide for adult acne or in higher concentrations can often irritate sensitive skin and lead to a more serious skin condition called rosacea.

The basic symptoms which can vary with each rosacea episode generally include facial redness. This can be anything from a blush of embarrassment, to red blotches on the cheeks and face during high intensity exercise or sports, to a flush that has the appearance of a sun burn. Facial redness may burn, itch or cause the skin to feel tight and dry. The facial redness of rosacea can last anywhere from a few minutes to weeks or even months at a time. Another common symptom of rosacea is the appearance of rosacea papules. These are best described as small raised reddish colored bumps. They may look like an acne pimples but rosacea papules do not contain any pus such as you would observe with acne pimples. The papules may not occur with every episode of rosacea but when they do occur rosacea papules may number from one or two to twenty or more at a time. Rosacea papules can vary in size from very tiny to the diameter of the head of a pencil eraser. Rosacea papules can take up to two months or more to heal.

Salicylic Acid is another common ingredient in many acne products. Commonly known as aspirin, salicylic acid is also used for wart removal. Salicylic acid removes the outer layer of skin and is toxic in large amounts.

Salicylic acid can irritate or damage healthy skin surrounding the application site. On rare occasions, salicylic acid treatment can cause scarring.

Retinols or Vitamin A based products act as a chemical peeling agent, which helps the skin to renew itself more rapidly. By increasing the rate of turnover of the skin, it reduces pimple and black head formation. It is commonly used to treat acne as well as to treat fine wrinkling.

Topical vitamin A it is very effective at increasing the rate of shedding of the cells of the topmost layer of the epidermis or coenocytes. This contributes to softer, smoother-feeling skin but it also has a number of common side effects–including stinging or burning of the skin, itching, redness and even skin peeling. It also reduces pigmentation and more evenly distributes pigment in the epidermis, resulting in the improvement of mottled hyper pigmentation. This really limits your ability to use these products as part of your daily skin care regimen.

Is there a better way to treat pimples without the resulting dryness, redness, flaking and irritation to the skin? Many have found the use of zinc to be effective for acne. The mineral zinc applied topically can reduce the inflammation associated with acne. Medicinally zinc provides a level of anti-septic, anti-bacterial relief.