Monthly Archives: July 2014

Rosacea—No More Meds; My Skin is Clear

Since rosacea is not a life-threatening condition, it seems to be one of those diseases that researchers are slow to find a true cure for. At best, there is only a small fraction of medical research that focuses on helping rosacea suffers. There is speculation of the cause, but (to the best of my knowledge) there is no firm definitive answer that would lead to a cure for everyone who suffers. Medical science seems to be focusing more on the management of symptoms rather than eradicating the condition. We’re told to avoid trigger foods, exercise, sunlight, and hot beverages, among other things. Many of the things we’re told to avoid are actually good for us and shouldn’t be avoided for our overall health! There has to be a better way to manage this condition. Read on to learn how I successfully beat this horrible, embarrassing condition. This is my story of dealing with rosacea for somewhere around thirty-five years, until I finally found relief the natural way.

First, I’m not one to run to doctors all that easily. I admit that at times that’s not good, but nevertheless, that’s me. I had teenage acne for a number of years. My skin finally cleared up, but unfortunately not for long. I married when I was merely 17 years old—just when my skin cleared up from my years of acne. Then I started on birth control pills, and right away my blemishes returned. In fact, they stayed with me for around the next thirty (plus) years, until I found my own form of relief from my growing skin problems. I tried everything over-the-counter I could find to treat my acne and increasing dryness, redness, and skin sensitivity. Instead of getting better, it only grew worse and developed into an extreme case of rosacea.

Not knowing what I had, I experimented with over-the-counter products for about sixteen years until I finally broke down and visited a dermatologist. I was diagnosed with a severe case of rosacea and was prescribed the usual topical medication and also antibiotics. These helped a little, but the condition did not go away. Instead, it spread outward on my face and down to my neck. After a number of dermatologist visits and years passing by, I became a guinea pig for doctors, experimenting with different topical medications and antibiotics. My skin seemed to settle with a mild steroidal prescription topical cream and the antibiotic erythromycin because it had somewhat of an anti-inflammatory effect. I remained on that regimen for around fourteen years. However, my skin progressively got worse during that time, not better. Despite my medications, at times my face was as red as the red in our American flag. Forget avoiding trigger foods, exercise and sunlight. It was red all the time, no matter what! No doctor I saw had any other help for me, despite my continued and growing suffering. No doctor ever mentioned anything about diet nor examined me in any way other than writing prescriptions for my red, rough, dry, blistered face.

That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands (which is not unlike me). Over the years, I did a lot of personal research about rosacea, but at this point I renewed my efforts. I read everything and anything I could find of rosacea research and success stories people had posted and tried to find my own approach for resolving this life-long embarrassing and uncomfortable skin issue. I did so many things in desperation that I could not recount everything here. Nor would I recommend some of the insane tactics that I tried. But I can reflect back and isolate key factors that I believe led to my overcoming this horrible condition. Here are the key points that helped me.

• First I learned about the acid/alkaline imbalance the body can develop. (Even though this is contrary to what I learned in medical school while working on my master’s degree in nutrition, I decided to explore this avenue anyway.) I purchased a comprehensive pH testing kit. This was not a one-time test of urine or saliva. The test involved testing urine and saliva numerous times each day for about five days. Then, according to the directions, I did a lot of mathematical computations. I learned my overall pH was about 5.3, which was EXTREMELY acidic! Hmmm.

• With the very low pH of my body, I found a number of websites that listed foods that have an acidic or alkaline effect on metabolism. I focused on trying to bring my pH back up to within the normal range. It’s not an easy endeavor and takes time, but it’s certainly not impossible. It’s an important step for your overall health, whether you have rosacea or not. It’s also speculated to be an important factor in fighting cancer. A few key tactics that worked well for me were: Adding a slice of fresh lemon to all water I drank, eating a lot of watermelon, avoiding sugar as much as possible, minimizing all refined foods, and focusing on eating most of my foods from the alkaline list and minimizing eating foods on the acidifying list. This involves eating a lot of fresh vegetables, so that was an easy step for me, because I thrive on salads.

• I drank a lot of water with fresh lemon added…not soda, very little coffee and a modest amount of tea (green tea seems to be OK).

• I started taking Evening Primrose Oil, which is good for people with skin issues.

• I started consuming “green” drinks or supplements. By this I mean those that ARE green, like barley juice, chlorella, spirulina, etc. I took tablets at first, then switched to powdered form and made it into a beverage because it was cheaper. One drink a day has been plenty for me. Needless to say, some of the mixtures were not pleasant to drink. Especially unpleasant to me was any mixture containing spirulina because the smell (and taste) reminded me of old fish tank water. Yuk. However, I DID ABSOLUTELY notice an improvement in my skin from taking the “green” foods. There are apparently many nutrients in them beneficial to the body and they helped in healing my skin.

• I started weaning myself off the antibiotics. This process took about a year (yes, really). Obviously, rosacea skin is so sensitive and gets used to whatever it’s routinely subjected to. Making ANY change sets off the condition. So, when I cut the antibiotics and had severe flare-ups, I took them again for a short while to calm down the skin. Then I would try the process again, of cutting back or omitting the antibiotics. I was on and off of them for a year before the skin finally accepted NOT having the antibiotics in my system and the flare-ups calmed down. Whew. Needless to say, THAT was a process I don’t care to repeat.

• After weaning myself off the antibiotics, I did the same with the prescription topical creams. That process also took time, as the skin seemed to be “addicted” to them. I went off and on them until the skin gradually got used to doing without them. Any remaining creams I had on hand went in the trash!

• Next, I experimented with many of the different face washes and creams advertised as helping rosacea. None of them did anything good for my skin except for my lifetime friend—Cetaphil. I was introduced to it by my first dermatologist and it seemed to be the one wash and lotion that didn’t flare up my skin. So, I continued to use it until my skin calmed down ever further.

Gradually, and I mean VERY gradually, my skin calmed down with fewer flare-ups, and slowly began to look better. In retrospect, I think the healing of my skin had more to do with normalizing the pH of the body (which involves a lot of water intake and wholesome foods including the green drinks), and using non-irritating skin products than anything else. My skin was healing from the inside, not just being treated for the symptoms. As time progressed, my skin continued to look better and normalize more and more over the years since I stopped the prescription meds and normalized my body’s pH.

I have since started using clear glycerin soap to wash my face. Amazingly, now I can use it interchangeably with the Cetaphil face wash (something I certainly could not do when my face was so irritated). However, I prefer the glycerin soap because it’s cheaper and can be used for a whole body wash, not just my face. It also leaves my face feeling more moisturized than the Cetaphil facial wash. Obviously, the glycerin soap is very gentle on skin.

I continue to avoid eating sugar, honey, brown sugar, syrup…any sweetener as much as possible. I admittedly use stevia products as I enjoy sweet-tasting foods. I’ve learned to bake muffins using unsweetened applesauce and dried dates as sweeteners and it works well. They taste good and don’t upset my skin. (Obviously, I don’t make a steady diet of them.)

Regarding the Evening Primrose Oil, I’ve varied the amount I’ve taken ranging from one per day clear up to six (the maximum suggested number of caps per day). I find I need more in the winter when the air is dryer. During the summer, I now take two per day and it seems to be enough.

To this day, I have continued drinking one “green” beverage a day. Now I use only barley juice powder. (Spirulina and chlorella are quite expensive.) I mix about one tablespoon of the powder in a tall glass of water and use that to take any other supplements I consume in the morning. I’ve gotten used to it, so it’s no issue to me now, taste-wise. You could add some stevia to make it more palatable. Or, take it in pill form, which would work just as well.

So, in an attempt to help others who are suffering from rosacea, the following is a list of pointers that I learned that may help you in overcoming your rosacea.

• Test your pH with a comprehensive kit. A one-time test of urine or saliva isn’t enough to truly determine where you stand. Chances are, you’re on the acidic side, so take steps to correct it—NOW.

• Clean up your diet. Avoid sugar (Yes, I KNOW this is a tough one!). Avoid it like the plague. Use stevia if needed, but avoid other artificial sweeteners as they are acid forming in your body.

• Search the Internet to find a list of acid and alkaline-forming foods. Print it out and use it as your eating guideline. Focus on eating as much as possible from the list of alkaline-forming foods. It’s almost impossible to eat from the alkaline list 100 percent, but make that list of foods your main focus. Add fresh lemon slices to water. Eat all the watermelon you can get your hands on. Cut down on meats (they’re all acid producing). Cut out refined foods as much as possible. (Yep, that’s another really hard thing to do, but it’s VERY important for healing your body.) Eat lots of veggies and alkalizing fruits. Opt for whole foods as much as possible.

• Drink LOTS of water! (And don’t forget to add the fresh lemon slice.)

• If you’re not happy with your current face washing/moisturizing supplies, get brave and try using an unscented, non-colored, nothing-added-to-it bar of clear glycerin soap to wash with. It’s non-irritating and moistens the skin, sometimes leaving it feeling like no other moisturizer is needed (once your skin is healed). I still use a LITTLE Cetaphil moisturizing cream on my face. My facial skin has calmed down and is more normal now. In the summertime, washing alone with glycerin soap is often enough. In the winter, I may use a little Cetaphil cream. In the meantime, use whatever moisturizer agrees with your face to help keep it calm. Until your skin can calm down, try to avoid putting anything on it that might irritate it, like makeup or harsh chemicals.

• If you’re on medications and topical creams, it might be wise to stay on them while trying these other new things. This will allow you to determine if something is helping or not. When your skin calms down, AND IF you want to wean yourself off prescriptions, do it slowly. Visit with your doctor about making changes in meds before starting to be sure this would be the right move for you. Rosacea skin gets very used to those meds and flares up easily when things change. Do make changes slowly. Go back on meds temporarily if needed to calm the skin back down. Then try again. Remember, it takes time for rosacea skin to get used to changes.

• If it fits in your budget, experiment with Evening Primrose Oil to see if it helps. Start with only one capsule a day and go from there.

• Try adding some “green” supplements to your day. Barley juice powder, spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass powder…any of which would likely benefit your skin. If the powdered form in a beverage is not for you, purchase them in tablet or capsule form, which would work just as well.

• Allow time for the skin to heal. It took me over a year to wean myself off the erythromycin and topical meds. I’ve been off of them for roughly five years now. As I continue my regimen of eating right, consuming lots of water, and using nonirritating products, my skin continues to improve even more.

It’s to the point now that I’m happy to be in public without makeup. I no longer need makeup to try to hide the redness and bumps. My skin is clear. There is little to no redness, no irritation, no flare-ups, no bumps, and no dry or itchy patches. From my own experience of having an extreme prolonged case of rosacea, I believe that it can be treated with a totally natural approach, without prescription medications of any sort. It takes time to heal the damaged skin. But when given the right nutrients and gentle treatment, the body can heal itself, given enough time. My case demonstrates that!

If you’re suffering from rosacea, I certainly hope this information helps you! Please feel free to write and ask questions or let me know if this information has helped you in any way. If I can help, I will! Judi

The above article is provided for your information and contains no guarantees nor liabilities. It worked for the writer, but cannot carry a guarantee that it will work for the reader. Each person’s case is different. The writer will not be held liable for any issues caused by the recommendations within this article.