Rosacea is a skin condition that causing swelling, inflammation, and redness on a person’s cheeks, nose, forehead or chin. 5% of the US population-that’s 13 million Americans-suffers from rosacea. While often-times rosacea is mild enough to be a merely cosmetic nuisance, it can progress to become a severe, painful, and significant medical problem. Fortunately, rosacea can be effectively treated with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
The symptoms of rosacea have a broad range. Milder symptoms include redness and inflammation of the facial area. Patients may also have enlarged blood vessels that are visible on the face. As rosacea progresses, patients may develop thick, puffy skin that feels itchy and painful. As rosacea becomes more severe, pustules and papules may appear on the skin’s surface. Pores become enlarged and ‘beehive’-like, and skin becomes bumpy. When rosacea is this severe, patients often also develop redness, dryness, grittiness, and inflammation of the eyes eventually leading to partial vision loss.
People who develop rosacea tend to have a few common characteristics. Rosacea mostly occurs in people with fair complexions. These individuals often come from British, Scottish or Celtic ancestry. Rosacea patients also generally have sensitive skin and a tendency to blush or flush easily.
The onset of rosacea can occur for several reasons. In addition to the possible inherited predisposition for rosacea, consumption of alchohol-especially in large quantities-can also trigger the problem. Experiencing extreme heat, due to sun exposure or contact with hot air or water, may also cause or exacerbate the disease. Exposure to cold wind or water can also make the condition worse. For rosacea patients, chemicals in soaps and cleansers can irritate skin and should be avoided.
According to Western medicine, the actual cause of rosacea is unclear. Since rosacea appears in people with sensitive systems, the onset may simply be understood as a reaction to rosacea triggers. It is speculated that rosacea may also be caused by stress, or the result of improper diet. Some doctors even assert that rosacea is caused by a skin parasite. Regardless of the causes, Western medicine treats rosacea with prescription medicine or surgery. The prescriptions, like tetracycline or steroids can be hard on the body and have negative side effects. Chinese medicine is an excellent, natural alternative to treat and heal this disease.
Rosacea and Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands rosacea as the result of an energetic imbalance in the body. According to Chinese medicine, healthy bodies circulate blood and energy (called qi) freely; illness is the result of blood or qi blockages or stagnations. In TCM, rosacea is considered to be the result of energy stagnation called a ‘heat condition.’ In this model, stagnant heat is trapped in the lung system (the system that controls the health of the skin) or the stomach and spleen systems, and this heat rises to the face to cause inflammation. An acupuncture treatment begins with a thorough examination and detailed consultation. in order to pinpoint the imbalance at the root of the outbreak, and then customize a treatment plan to address the problem.
Chinese medical treatment for rosacea will include acupuncture, herbs and suggested lifestyle changes. Acupuncture needling disperses heat and qi stagnation and rebalances the body’s acidity levels. These treatments may also help the patient manage any stress which may have contributed to the condition. Along with needling, herbs help to rebalance the body’s systems. Lifestyle changes may also be recommended: avoiding hot and spicy foods, eliminating wheat and dairy from the diet, introducing vitamins A, B, C, D, E and zinc supplements, and consuming more fiber and water. Avoiding common rosacea triggers such as heat, chemicals and alcohol is also recommended.