Rosacea and Menopause
Everybody has heard of menopause, and many make jokes or are at least familiar with the image of a middle-aged woman, fanning herself and sweating profusely with a hot flash as she goes through “the change”. But what most people don’t realize is that one of the things that menopause can bring is rosacea, a condition that, once present, will likely stay with her for the rest of her life, or at least for many years.
Rosacea can affect almost anybody, but is most prevalent in fair-skinned people over the age of 30, and most commonly found in women. Rosacea sufferers often report trigger points, which are also known as tripwires, and those are often related in some way to heat. Common tripwires include sweating with exercise, eating spicy foods or hot weather, so it’s no surprise that for women going through menopause, not only can a hot flash be a tripwire, it may actually be the trigger to their very first rosacea flair.
Acne or Rosacea?
For a woman who is going through menopause, rosacea often comes as a particularly unwelcome surprise. They are already going through changes that can cause depression, anxiety and mood swings in addition to a variety of other physical manifestations that are difficult to deal with. Many will go through their initial flare up and assume that the breakouts that they’re seeing are acne; they will think that with a bit of extra face-washing or just waiting out a hormonal surge, this particular problem will go away. But as hot flashes continue and exacerbate the condition, most will end up seeking medical help from either their gynecologist or their dermatologist, and that’s when they find out that they’ve been hit with an illness for which there is no cure or end in sight.
There is never a good time to be diagnosed with rosacea, but for women going through menopause the timing is particularly difficult; their overall condition is characterized by mood swings, and depression is often a problem, which means that in addition to hot flashes, stress and anxiety may be present as well. Where rosacea sufferers are usually able to manage their disease by avoiding known triggers, hot flashes arrive unannounced and can’t be consciously avoided.
Rosacea Treatments For Women with Menopause
Many women who are diagnosed with rosacea during menopause receive a different treatment regimen than what’s prescribed for men or younger women who don’t have the additional hormonal complication, and this different approach may actually be just as effective – or possibly more so – than traditional treatments. This is in large part because a menopausal woman’s physician is primarily treating the symptoms of menopause rather than their rosacea, and that menopause treatment coincidentally helps with the skin condition by eliminating the trigger. When a woman presents with flushing, redness or a breakout that is exacerbated by hormonal fluctuations, her physician’s response will always be to treat the hormonal problem; they will prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and possibly antihistamines as well, both of which have anti-inflammatory benefits. Interestingly, a woman going through menopause may also be given a prescription for an anti-depressant, thus effectively eliminating two more of rosacea’s most common trigger points: depression and stress.
Although hot flashes will eventually go away, women with rosacea will continue to have flushing, burning and all of the other symptoms of their condition long after they have gone through the last stages of menopause. For those who had the symptoms prior to their hormonal shift, the hot flashes will simply have been an additional trigger, but for those women whose hot flashes signaled the onset of the disease, things may be more emotionally stressful. Women tend to think of menopause as a set of symptoms that will begin and, eventually, end, but because rosacea is likely to stay with them, they may need additional support and counseling. They also are less likely to have seen a dermatologist for their condition, so it may be only when their hormonal shifts end that they first turn to topical, dermatological solutions.