While there is a distinct lack of research about the connection between rosacea and hormones, the condition is often aggravated at menopause and sometimes during mid-cycle, says rosacea expert Dr. Wilma Bergfeld
The reason for this connection isn’t totally clear, thanks to that lack of study. There’s obviously an indirect link with hormonal fluctuations, because of the way hormones affect mood: emotional ups and downs during menopause, as well as during the oestrogen drop of the third week of the menstrual cycle, have an effect on rosacea flares.
Let’s take a closer look.
Rosacea and perimenopause
Rosacea affects women between the ages of 30 and 60 more than any other demographic. Of course, these are also the years in which women experience the perimenopause (the years of hormonal change before their periods stop completely), so it’s unsurprising that there’s an association between the two. Although it’s unclear whether there's a direct causal connection between rosacea and the hormonal changes of perimenopause, there are a few indirect links.
Most obviously, the hot flushes (or flashes) that so many women of this age experience can cause overheating of the skin, and trigger a rosacea flare that can take a while to calm down. The more frequent the flushes, and the more self-conscious and stressed this might make someone, the worse the rosacea.
Which leads us onto the second clear connection between rosacea and the perimenopausal years: heightened emotions. The vast majority of rosacea sufferers experience a flare as a result of extreme emotion, whether stress, anxiety or even excitement! Unfortunately for many women, the perimenopausal years come hand in hand with increased stress, anger, anxiety or depression. These difficult emotions, experienced over a period of time, can have a significant effect on rosacea. More flares, and more severe flares, can be the unfortunate result.
Rosacea and the menstrual cycle
Rosacea has so many triggers, and they vary so much from person to person, that it can be really hard for any one sufferer to tell exactly what is going on. Women might find that their rosacea is better or worse at certain times of the month, and make a connection with how they’re feeling.
And indeed it's well documented that the hormonal fluctuations of a normal menstrual cycle can have a profound effect on emotional state; as oestrogen drops, mood can drop with it. Anxiety, irritation and stress can all affect the body’s inflammatory response, which can in turn trigger a rosacea flare.
It’s worth remembering that not all rosacea sufferers are people who have periods, or who are going through the perimenopause, just as not all are pale-skinned or of Caucasian heritage. Hormones are not the only triggers for rosacea flares; the enhanced inflammatory response that characterises the condition can also be affected by what we eat and drink, where in the world we are, and what we put on our skin. But there is clearly some kind of link; hopefully in the future this important area of study will be better funded and more learnt about the connection between rosacea and hormones.
For more information about rosacea and how to manage it, see our blog on Rosacea Awareness.
Recommended products for rosacea-prone skin:
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
with calendula & chamomile