W. C. Fields, the famous comedian in the early part of the 1900’s, was known for his humorous dislike of women, children, and dogs. Part of his act was his hard-drinking persona, with his enlarged, red nose from too much drink. While W. C. Fields may have been a power drinker, his big nose was from an extreme case of rosacea, a skin condition that affects an estimated sixteen million Americans.
Most people might not think of using acupuncture for skin conditions, but in fact, rosacea is something that we’ve effectively treated at Acupuncture in the Park. Rosacea is an interesting animal, as it not only affects your skin with acne-like pimples, but it also is vascular in nature, which causes the flushing and redness for which it’s named.
Rosacea affects both men and women who are middle aged and older. It involves the nose, cheeks, and chin with redness, broken blood vessels, and pimples. It’s often accompanied by easy flushing and a sensation of heat. In more advanced cases, the cheeks can become so red that they appear almost purple, and over time, this condition can cause thickening of the skin, especially the nose, which was the case for W. C. Fields.
Treating rosacea in Western medicine is geared toward managing the acne and inflammation, and involves the use of topical and oral antibiotics or flagyl, a powerful anti-infective. Any long-term solutions involve surgical debulking of thickened tissue or laser surgery to treat broken blood vessels.
In Chinese medicine, rosacea is considered to be a kind of heat in your body. Like heat anywhere, it tends to rise upward, and in the case of rosacea, it affects your face. Interestingly, a great many people who have rosacea also suffer from migraine headaches, which also tend to be caused by heat moving upward and creating symptoms.
We discovered the effectiveness of acupuncture for rosacea almost by accident. We performed cosmetic acupuncture on a number of patients who had mild to moderate rosacea to see if the protocol would help their condition. Not only did their skin look better overall, but their rosacea disappeared. Over time, we discovered that some patients who have rosacea respond equally as well without the entire cosmetic protocol. In some cases, we use a point prescription that combines some local points on the face to reduce the inflammation and redness with other points on the body to clear the systemic heat.
Part of our treatment for rosacea is to determine and eliminate the source of the heat and causes of flare-ups. This involves an assessment and history of the condition, lifestyle factors, diet, and triggers. Once our patients with rosacea complete a course of treatment, we rarely see them except for an infrequent maintenance visit. That’s because their once-inflamed skin is now cool, calm, and under control. Who knew?