Rosacea is a skin condition that affects as many as 1 in 20 people and, because it mainly affects the face, it presents a significant problem for everything from makeup applications to facials. When treating a person with rosacea, here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.
DO: BE PARTICULARLY GENTLE
Rosacea typically reddens skin and it also generates discomfort through stinging or burning sensations, making the affected areas quite sensitive. When a rosacea sufferer seeks skin treatment, they’re looking to relax and feel good about their skin. The only way they can do that is if the professional is gentle with them.
Whenever you need to touch affected skin, or even the area around it, don’t apply much pressure. Pressing too hard will likely cause pain and may even intensify the symptoms. Additionally, avoid anything abrasive. Some treatments aim for exfoliation, but that’s generally unsuitable for rosacea-affected skin.
DON’T: EXPOSE CLIENTS TO TRIGGERS
Rosacea is still a mystery in a lot of ways. We don’t know exactly what causes it or technically what it involves, but we do know some things that are known to trigger rosacea outbreaks. Being careful with rosacea-affected skin means avoiding the following:
Ultraviolet Light: Ultraviolet light is known to damage skin and damage to rosacea-affected skin will worsen the symptoms and increase the difficulty of recovery. Stick with natural light and use ultraviolet protection films on your windows.
High or Low Humidity: With too little moisture, skin will dry up, causing it to crack and form sores. With too much moisture, skin will sweat, leading to irritation.
Harsh Temperatures: Just as humidity can cause issues, being too hot or too cold can worsen rosacea symptoms. Err on the side of coolness if you must, but maintain a comfortable room temperature at all times.
DO: KEEP ASKING CLIENTS FOR FEEDBACK
No matter how much you know about your area of expertise, you can never predict what a client is feeling unless you talk to them. It might feel uncomfortable to bring up rosacea if it hasn’t been mentioned (you’ve simply noticed it), but which is worse: causing a fresh outbreak or causing some mild and brief awkwardness?
Before you begin treatment, ask the client about their skin and get their thoughts on what they’d like. You may find that they know exactly what their skin needs and can guide you accordingly. Or, they might not know what they want but may still be able to tell you what causes them discomfort.
Throughout the treatment, encourage them to let you know if anything you do is unpleasant for them and reassure them that you’ll stop immediately whenever needed. This way, you don’t need to assume anything and, when you finish the treatment, you can be confident that the client had a good experience.
DON’T: APPLY TREATMENTS THAT MIGHT CAUSE ISSUES
Many rosacea sufferers use topical treatments – whether prescribed or otherwise – to alleviate their symptoms. Some may be simple moisturizers, while others may feature active ingredients (even steroids) to achieve more potent effects.
When you first speak to the client about their skin, ask them what treatments they’ve been using (if any) and what substances (again, if any) they’ve been medically advised to avoid. You may find that some of the creams or oils you typically use are likely to cause problems. If in doubt, don’t take the risk – your client’s health is on the line, as is your reputation.
If you know ahead of time that you’re going to be treating a client with rosacea, you may want to consult a doctor or pharmacist to get their assessment of your treatment style. The better you understand the needs of sufferers, the more you’ll be able to cater your approach to them, and the happier everyone will be.
Scott McDougall, MPharm, is the co-founder and registered manager of The Independent Pharmacy, one of the United Kingdom’s leading independent online pharmacies. For more healthcare and treatment advice, visit their website.