I am 35 years old and have been diagnosed as having acne rosacea. Could you tell me a little more about it and how I can treat it? My dermatologist has told me to not use anything except soap and water and a little vaseline, but my skin feels sore.

Rosacea is a reddish- colored rash that appears on the flush area of the face, i.e., the cheeks, nose, mid-forehead and chin. There are many small blood vessels feeding the skin and other tissues that are sensitive to stimulation and dilation from the effects of certain foods, drugs, and temperature changes as well as emotions. Individuals who develop rosacea seem to have a super-sensitive group of blood vessels that dilate more readily than normal and fail to return completely to their former constricted state after the stimulus has been eliminated. This is an unexplained disorder of the blood vessels. After years of this persistent flushing, the skin can erupt with acne-like blemishes and may have a constantly flushed appearance. (This happens from age 30 to 45).

Generally speaking, tranquillizers are not entirely effective for this condition unless there happens to be an independent problem of chronic anxiety. Since heat dilates the blood vessels, very hot foods such as steaming cups of coffee and tea, soup or spicy foods such as Mexican chili and Indian curries are taboo. Alcohol is also a vasodilator and heavy consumption is an aggravating factor. Avoid saunas, facial steaming, hot whirlpool baths, etc.

The use of coticosteroid cream can be temporarily helpful but prolonged use can thin the skin and leave it fragile, thus actually encouraging some of the permanent skin changes of rosacea. Perhaps the soap your dermatologist recommended is a bit too harsh for you. Perhaps there is a milder one that you could use.

Sensitive blood vessels may be cause of rosacea

What is the difference between liqud eyeliners and pencils? Which do you think is better to use? Eyeliners, used on the top and/or bottom lid, define the eye, giving it greater clarity and structure.

Liquid eyeliners are useful when a more sharply defined line is desired. It is possible to achieve a very thin line, it goes on every smoothly but is more difficult to apply well. It stays on longer than pencil and doesn’t smudge. It is more bacteria-prone and, therefore, shouldn’t be kept for longer than four months. The color selection in liquid liners is limited, usually brown, black or grey.

A pencil liner, “kohl” or “kajal”, is most effective for a muted line. It does, however, smudge more easily than the liquid and doesn’t stay on long. Eye irritation can be a problem if the color smudges into the mucous membrane of the eye. With the pencil it is possible to achieve a more feathered, natural- looking line and there are a wide variety of colors available. A soft pencil can be used in place a shadow for a quick makeup. This type of liner is less prone to bacterial build-up as the surface is constantly renewed when the pencil is sharpened. Liquid liners are best- suited for an oily skin whereas the pencils are better for the normal to dry skin types.

Can perfume cause pigmentation on the skin?

Certain perfumes, colognes and scented cosmetics contain chemicals such as bergamot oil that increase sensitivity to sunlight. The perfume itself will not cause a reaction but the combination of perfume and sunlight causes a phototoxic skin rash that heals with a striking hyperpigmentation. This unusually patterned coloration appears on the areas where the perfume or cologne was applied (sides of neck, wrists, etc.). Once the hyperpigmentation has developed, it is slow to fade and difficult to remove with depigmenting agents. Prevention is the most effective approach.

Perfumes in deodorants and toilet soaps and soap with hexachlorophine are capable of producing the same results. No scents should be applied if a prolonged period of sun exposure is anticipated. (An added advantage is that bees are less likely to be attracted to normal human odor than to the artificial scent of perfumes.)

How can you tell if you are wearing too much perfume?

If someone can notice your fragrance when they are more than 12 inches from you, it’s too much. Surround yourself with fragrance, but don’t saturate yourself with it. I understand that there is a special vitamin for the skin. Can you tell me what it is and does it come in a cream? The skin is an organ and, as such, needs all the vitamins, minerals, and other food elements to remain healthy. There is no single “skin vitamin.” If the body is receiving all its required nutrients then the skin will look and feel healthy. Dietary deficiencies may sometimes show up on the skin in various ways but this would have to be looked at on an individual basis.

I have dry nails that peel and break off easily. Will gelatin help make my nails grow stronger?

When nails are brittle, they have literally dried out. Excessive exposure to soap and water, harsh detergents, constant use of nail polish and low humidity can cause this condition. Gelatin does not help as brittle nails have nothing to do with protein, vitamin A or iron deficiency.