My poor long suffering husband, who does so much to care for me, suffers a lot of stress. Stress is a major trigger for rosacea, which he has on his cheeks, and the more stress he has the redder his rosacea gets and sometimes it spreads. Now I don’t think he looks any less handsome, he is just wonderful no matter what, but after suffering from horrendous acne as a teen, I know what it is like to have a face you feel uncomfortable about. So I rolled up my sleeves and decided to make a salve for him to help with this.
Rosacea is a very old and well known skin disorder, nicknamed the “Curse of the Celts” due to a belief it has a higher rate of occurrence in the British Isles, or Northern European descent. My husband being of Black Irish and Welsh descent is unfortunately of the right genetics to inherit this skin issue. Though is is being found that it is more common in other genetic groups but people with fairer skin tend to be more susceptible to it, and the redness shows more. Oh the curse of being pasty white!
In France, since it was thought to be linked to hard drinking (though now we know it is just a trigger that can worsen symptoms), it was known as “pustule de vin” or “pimples of wine.” Rembrandt had it, and painted his symptoms in great detail.
Bill Clinton as well had it and was unable to hide its effects from the camera during his terms. Shakespeare references the skin issue in Henry IV part 1 & 2 and Henry V, and one of my favorite author/poets, the delightfully rude Geoffrey Chaucer, mentions it in the prologue to the Summoners Tale.
A somnour was ther with us in that place,
That hadde a fyr-reed cherubbines face,
For sawcefleem he was, with eyen narwe.
As hoot he was and lecherous as a sparwe,
With called brows blake and piled berd;
Of his visage children were a ferd.
Ther nas quik-silver, litharge ne brimstoon,
Boras, ceruce ne oille of tartre noon,
Ne oynement that woulde clense and byte,
That him might helpen of his whelkes whyte,
Nor of the knobbes sittinge on his chekes.
Wel loved he garleek, oynons and eek lekes,
And for to drinken stron wyn red as blood.
Which describes well the symptoms of rosacea, and blames it on his diet of garlic, onions, leeks, and hard drinking of blood red wine. As well as having too much salt phlegm (sawcefleem) in his constitution, and that nothing available at the time to treat it could reduce the obvious symptoms of the skin condition. Luckily, in modern times we have many more options for treatments and it is much easier to control the symptoms than in the days of Chaucer or Rembrandt.
Rosacea is redness on the face, usually cheeks, chin, around the eyes, and forehead are most affected, but it can go to the chest and other places. It can be just redness of the skin, to pustules, papules, dilation of blood vessels close to the surface of the skin, red & gritty eyes, as well as Rhinophyma which is what causes the enlargement and hardening of the skin on and around the nose. Which as you can imagine doesn’t do a lot for self esteem when you look in the mirror, and if left untreated rosacea can spread and become a real issue.
Now before I get into the salve making for treating this, I thought I would go over a few triggers for rosacea, since while it isn’t physically painful it does stem from mental pain, and like migraines can come from environmental or food triggers. Known rosacea triggers are:
- Sun exposure – so wear those hats and sunscreen
- Emotional stress – stress kills, and causes so many issues in the body. Reducing stress, and trying to avoid it when you can is a good way to prevent flare ups. Which if you have a partner that suffers from chronic pain, this may be harder to avoid, try seeking out care giver support groups, or speaking with people that have spouses that suffer. Knowing there are people out there that are going through what you go through helps.
- Alcohol – this seems to cause the most flare ups from what I have seen, but every person is different. Try to avoid or limit your alcohol intake
- Weather/Environment – hot, cold, wind, humidity, lack of humidity, all the elements outside (and some inside) can trigger flare ups, so try to avoid too much exposure to extreme weather.
- Foods – spicy foods, stimulants (coffee, tea, etc.) all of these can cause flare ups they have less of an effect in some cases than others. Try an elimination diet, and see if a specific type of food is causing your flare ups.
How to Treat Rosacea
Now there are some foods though that help with rosacea, number one is probiotics – which I went over in my post about helping with how to care for your gut and issues with lack of pooping. Probiotics we have found to help a lot, and I put them in as much food as I can for him, even his butter. It made a huge difference, he had a bad bout with it where it spread and pustules started to appear, and after we started the probiotic regimen a lot of the pustules reduced in size or disappeared.
You can also use, and guys you will have to get over what it is marketed as used for, yeast infection cream. You want to purchase a cream with 2% or more (preferably 4%) of Miconazole Nitrate. Now I know this seems silly, it is supposed to go on lady parts as it says on the box, so think outside of the box! The level of medication used in most stuff for lady parts is a lot stronger than what you can buy for treating other yeast blooms on the skin. That means the infamous jock itch or athletes foot can be much better battled with this than other over the counter preparations made specifically for those issues. Since it is an anti-fungal, this can also battle ringworm! So many uses for just one over the counter product! Five in one!
But we have, in our experiments, found what seems to be the best topical way to treat this, and has had some seriously amazing results. It has improved enough to where he is just taking probiotics and using this salve, and it is difficult to get him to use even an aspirin and he uses the salve everyday without complaint. So must be working right?! Also, since he has very sensitive skin this is a very bespoke salve, but you can adapt it easily for yourself with some of the notes I include below the recipe.
- 1 ounce Beeswax, grated or pellets
- 1 ounce Coconut oil (Shea butter or Cocoa butter, something moisturizing)
- 10 drops Lavender essential oil
- 10 drops Rosemary essential oil
- 10 drops Pine essential oil
- 10 drops of German chamomile essential oil
Melt the beeswax and oil in a double boiler, again I really like the mason jar technique now that I have discovered it since scrubbing this out of bowls is a real pain in the behind, so you can dedicate a mason jar to each salve and prevent cross contamination from a poor scrub job. Once you have the wax and oil sufficiently melted and blended, remove from the heat and add essential oils and stir in well.
This is designed for two 2 ounce tins, and you can modify this to fit any container by using 1 part beeswax to 1 part moisturizer (coconut oil, cocoa butter, or shea butter). You can also use pine resin for this instead of essential oil, but you would want to reduce your beeswax by half and make the rest up with the resin.
Now if you are less sensitive skinned than my dear husband, you can use Roman chamomile, or even Tea Tree oil. We found though for him, Tea Tree is much too drying and causes irritation. Frankincense is also a good option here, but he just doesn’t care for the smell and we found it didn’t do as much for him as the other oils.
Why This Works
The lavender helps to reduce the red, and inflammation, and is great for just generally healing the skin. The rosemary which is also antiseptic, antibacterial, and it has vitamin E which is fantastic for the skin. Pine helps as an anti-everything in fighting fungal and anything else that could be creeping about on the skin as well as providing vitamin A and E which are fantastic for healing scars and skin issues. Pine also provides yet another anti-inflammatory to help calm the skin inflammation. German chamomile is gentle and helps to sooth the skin like the lavender, and is a better anti-inflammatory than the more astringent Roman.
The chamomile and lavender also help to reduce stress, and soothe the mind, which I know he needs with everything he has to go through. I often tell him that I think this is worse for him than for me, since I just have to get through the pain, he is the one that has to watch the person he loves suffer and is helpless to do anything to ease my suffering. So it makes me feel better that I am helping him fight that in some small way. Plus the less noticeable it is the happier he is, and more confident he feels, and what is better than that?
Remember to check for any interactions for these ingredients on WebMD, and always do test patches for any salves or topical preparations to make sure you don’t have and adverse reaction. Reducing stress is important and exercise, diet, and a good nights sleep is all important for keeping stress at bay. Meditative practices too, he has started doing Tai Chi himself and I like to think it helps him. Most importantly, see a dermatologist, self diagnosing can lead to improper treatment we consulted one first to make sure what we thought was rosacea really was that and not something else. So, if you aren’t officially diagnosed, ask a professional!