Natural Herbal Remedies for Seasonal or Occasional Rosacea
Natural Herbal Remedies for Seasonal or Occasional Rosacea
I've struggled with seasonal rosacea flare ups for years. It usually shows up as a small hot and itchy patch on my cheek or under eye area and persists for a week or more. Spring is the most common time. Through lots of trial and error and even a trip to the doctor's office for a diagnosis, I've found the best way to heal and prevent rosacea is at home with common herbal remedies and simple lifestyle changes. In this article, I share the most effective herbs and how to use them for treatment of pesky seasonal skin rashes. These techniques can be used for eczema too!
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is considered to be a long term inflammatory skin condition that causes reddened skin and a rash, usually on the nose, cheeks and eye area. The symptoms typically come and go with many people reporting that certain factors such as seasonal changes, emotional stress, hormonal changes and diet bring them on.
According to peer-reviewed articles, rosacea is a common chronic skin condition that affects an estimated 5-10% of the population, although the prevalence may vary depending on the population studied and diagnostic criteria used.
One study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology estimated the prevalence of rosacea among adults in the United States to be approximately 5.5%. Another study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reported a prevalence of 10% among a sample of patients attending dermatology clinics in the United Kingdom.
Overall, rosacea appears to be a relatively common skin condition that affects a significant proportion of the population. However, further research is needed to better understand the prevalence and underlying causes of the condition.
These two photos were taken just days apart after using herbal cold compresses 2-3 times per day
3 common herbs to help soothe skin rashes-
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has a long history of use in traditional medicine for various purposes including the treatment of skin rashes like rosacea and eczema. It contains a variety of biologically active compounds, including flavonoids, phenolic acids and polysaccharides, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. While stinging nettle is known to contain histamine (hence the stinging sensation when touched), it also contains compounds that have been shown to have antihistamine properties. These compounds, known as flavonoids and carotenoids, have been found in both the leaves and roots of the stinging nettle plant. Studies have suggested that these compounds may help to block the release of histamine in the body, which could make stinging nettle beneficial for those with allergies or other conditions involving an overactive immune response. If you’re worried about consuming or using nettle topically because of its well known sting, don’t be! As long as you take care to harvest with gloves then process the plant by drying, cooking or simply blending with cold water, the stingers will be neutralized.
When applied topically, nettle extracts have been shown to help soothe skin rashes and irritation by reducing inflammation and histamine release. Histamine is a chemical released by the body in response to an allergen or irritant that can cause itching, redness, and swelling. Additionally, nettle has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, which may help prevent infections that can exacerbate skin rashes. Stinging nettle may also help soothe a rash when taken internally as a tea or supplement. When ingested, nettle has been shown to have diuretic properties, which can help flush out toxins and reduce inflammation throughout the body, including the skin.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a flowering plant in the same family as the common marigold that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including skin irritations and rashes. Calendula contains a number of biologically active compounds, including flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help soothe and heal skin rashes.
When applied topically, calendula extracts can help reduce inflammation and redness associated with skin rashes. The plant's anti-inflammatory compounds have been shown to inhibit the production of cytokines, which are molecules that play a role in inflammation. This can help reduce itching, redness, and swelling associated with skin rashes. Calendula also has antimicrobial properties that may help prevent infections that can exacerbate skin rashes. One study found that calendula extracts were effective in inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that can cause skin infections. Additionally, calendula has been shown to have wound-healing properties. When applied topically, it can help stimulate the production of collagen and promote tissue regeneration, which may help speed up the healing process of skin rashes.
Violet (Viola spp.) flowers and leaves have been used for their medicinal properties, including the ability to soothe skin rashes. Violet contains several active compounds including mucilage (the big one here), saponins and flavonoids, which are believed to contribute to its skin-soothing properties. Mucilage is a thick, viscous substance that is secreted by certain plants, such as marshmallow root, violet, slippery elm bark and comfrey. When applied topically, mucilage can help soothe and moisturize the skin. Mucilage acts as a natural emollient, which means it helps to soften and soothe the skin by forming a protective film over the skin's surface. This film helps to lock in moisture and prevent further irritation, which can be particularly beneficial for people with dry, itchy, or inflamed skin. Additionally, mucilage has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness and inflammation associated with skin rashes. It can also help to calm and cool the skin, providing relief from itching and discomfort. Overall, mucilage is believed to help soothe and protect the skin by providing a barrier against further irritation and inflammation, while also promoting healing and hydration. It is commonly used in natural skin care products, particularly those designed for sensitive or inflamed skin.
How do I find these herbs and should I use them fresh or dried?
All of these herbs can be found dried, online, or at your local apothecary. I always recommend searching for an herb shop close to you for two reasons- 1. Supporting your local economy and 2. You get to talk to a real person about the herbs who likely sources them locally.
Violets and stinging nettle grow abundantly in the wild during springtime and are also common “weeds” found in many neighborhoods. They could be in your very own backyard or local park! As long as you’re able to find a source that isn't sprayed with chemicals or herbicides, foraging is the best way to harvest your fresh herbal remedies. Just make sure you’re taking care to harvest responsibly by leaving roots intact and not wiping out entire populations. While using fresh plants is usually ideal, dried plants are available year round and can be just as effective!
Did you know that many of the medicinal properties of plants are retained after drying? Drying is a common method of preserving herbs and other plants for medicinal use, and many medicinal properties of plants are retained after drying. However, it is important to note that the potency and effectiveness of dried herbs may vary depending on the specific plant and the drying process used.
Some of the medicinal properties of plants that are retained after drying include:
- Antioxidant activity: Many plants contain antioxidants that can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Drying does not significantly affect the antioxidant activity of most plants.
- Anti-inflammatory activity: Plants with anti-inflammatory properties, such as the 3 listed above, retain their anti-inflammatory activity after drying.
- Antimicrobial activity: Many plants have antimicrobial properties that can help prevent or treat infections. Drying does not typically affect the antimicrobial activity of most plants.
- Mucilage content: As mentioned earlier, mucilage is a type of plant material that can help soothe and protect the skin. Many plants containing mucilage retain their mucilage content after drying.
- Essential oils: Many plants contain essential oils that have therapeutic properties. These oils can be preserved through the drying process and are commonly used in aromatherapy and other natural remedies.
Overall, many medicinal properties of plants are retained after drying, but it is important to use high-quality, properly dried herbs for optimal effectiveness. This is another reason to source from a local, high quality herb shop, forage or grow your own!
How to soothe a rash using an herbal cold compress-
My favorite way to soothe a rash is by creating an herbal cold compress. An herbal cold compress can be an effective and natural way to soothe a rash and provide relief from itching and inflammation. Here are the steps to create and use an herbal cold compress:
- Choose an herb that is known for its soothing properties, such as nettle, calendula, violet, chamomile or any combination of these. You can make an infusion by steeping dried herbs in hot water as you would for tea for 10-15 minutes, then allowing it to cool or do a cold infusion by simply combining the herbs with water and leaving in the refrigerator overnight.
- Soak a clean, soft cloth or towel in the herbal infusion until it is completely saturated.
- Wring out the excess liquid so that the cloth is damp but not dripping wet.
- Apply the herbal compress to the affected area of the skin, gently pressing it against the rash.
- Hold the compress in place for 5-10 minutes, or until the skin feels cool and soothed.
- Repeat the process as needed, up to several times a day, to help reduce inflammation and soothe the skin.
Using an herbal cold compress can provide additional benefits beyond just the cooling and soothing effects of a regular cold compress, you are employing all the medicinal qualities of the plant, too! It is important to note that if you have allergies or sensitive skin, you should test on a small patch of skin before applying an herbal compress to a larger area.
A good moisturizing routine is important too!The best moisturizer you can use during a flare up is one that is unscented and basic. A simple oil and water routine is good or you can use what I did- Tallow Face Balm - Unscented. Lush butters, tallow and oil paired with beeswax for added protection. It's what I reach for during the change of season.
Why we get rosacea and other ways to soothe a rash with herbs-
As most of us know by now, what you eat and drink can affect the health of your skin. The health of our skin can be a reflection of what we’re consuming, how stressed we are and the environment we live in. Stress is thought to trigger the release of certain chemicals in the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline that can cause inflammation and increase blood flow to the skin. This increased blood flow can make the skin appear more red and may contribute to the development of rosacea symptoms. Since you’ll be spending 10-15 minutes holding a cold compress to your face, why not spend that time meditating. Find a comfortable, quiet place, close your eyes and let your thoughts flow freely. Set a timer if you’d like. Trust me! It’s much better for your health than staring in the mirror for 10 minutes gawking at your rash.
Dietary factors may also play a role in rosacea. Certain foods and beverages, such as spicy foods, alcohol, and hot beverages, have been known to trigger rosacea symptoms in some people. This is thought to be due to the fact that these substances can cause blood vessels in the face to dilate, leading to increased blood flow and redness.
In addition, some research suggests that gut health may be linked to rosacea. Studies have found that people with rosacea are more likely to have an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria in their intestines, which may contribute to inflammation and other skin problems. It's important to note that while stress and diet may play a role in the development of rosacea, they are not the only factors. Other factors, such as genetics, environmental triggers, and skin barrier dysfunction may also contribute to the development of rosacea.
If you go to the doctor for treatment for rosacea you will likely be prescribed a steroid cream. If you want to avoid the potential side effects of these topical, synthetic drugs, try using herbs as well as avoiding foods and drinks that trigger you. Consuming the herbs listed above as well as applying them in a cold compress is a great way to increase their effectiveness. Enjoy nettle or calendula tea daily and add those wild violets to a salad or smoothie. Remember that no one knows your health better than you. You are in control of your body even when it feels like you’re not. Use your intuition and be consistent with your intentions to heal your body. Results will come!
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