Dr. Shannon Humphrey is a Vancouver dermatologist and member of the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada’s Medical Committee.
“April is Rosacea Awareness Month, and I am a dermatologist with rosacea.
Over the years, this skin condition has certainly impacted my quality of life. A correct diagnosis and proper treatment plan have (thankfully) substantially improved my symptoms and experience of living with rosacea, and so I hope to raise awareness about options and help others feel more comfortable and confident in their skin.
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects over three million Canadians – not a small number. It most commonly develops between the ages of 30 and 50. It is characterized as a condition of fair-skinned people, and so there is less awareness among both patients and physicians that rosacea can exist in people of colour. It’s time to change that.
The diagnosis of rosacea can be complicated by the fact that it has a variety of symptoms that can be present individually or together and can fluctuate over time. These symptoms can include persistent facial redness on the cheeks, nose and forehead, burning facial flushing, patches of rough, dry skin, enlarged pores, swollen bumps on the cheeks, chin, and forehead, broken blood vessels, and an enlarged or bulbous nose. Rosacea symptoms can flare up for a few weeks, fade, and return. The trademark redness associated with rosacea can be harder to spot in individuals with more natural pigment and so diagnosis can be missed.
Personally, my symptoms began in my early 30’s and left me feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious. My skin would burn and flush with intermittent redness that was distracting to my everyday life. Like many people with rosacea, I have a busy job, four kids, I love physical activity, and the last thing I want to worry about is a burning face.
Although there is no cure for rosacea – trigger avoidance, skincare, and treatments have helped me manage redness, burning, bumps and other symptoms; I try to avoid prolonged heat, stress, and sunlight to manage my symptoms. I practice sun avoidance, not only to prevent skin cancer, but because sun exposure can worsen rosacea over time. I use gentle hydrating skincare and mineral-based sunscreen. I’ve also found success with energy-based treatments like IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). By maintaining treatments 3-4 times a year, I have minimized flushing and burning. All this has had a significant impact on my quality of life.
If you are experiencing symptoms of rosacea, I encourage you to talk to your doctor or request a referral to a dermatologist. Remember, we now know rosacea can occur in skin of every colour, often presenting without obvious redness and flushing in naturally melanated skin types. Knowledge is power! An assessment of your skin will help you understand what variable triggers to avoid and what treatments can help keep symptoms at bay. There are excellent treatments available to transform life with rosacea.”
Dr. Shannon Humphrey is a Vancouver dermatologist and spokesperson for the not for profit Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada. She is Medical Director at Humphrey Cosmetic Dermatology. Dr. Humphrey is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Continuing Medical Education at the Department of Dermatology, University of British Columbia.
April is Rosacea Awareness Month, an opportunity to educate and improve understanding of this common skin condition affecting 3 million Canadians. Click here for more information about rosacea, the signs of rosacea, triggers and treatments.