woman with dry skin
Skin Health

Your Gut May Be to Blame for Your Skin Disorder

Skin conditions in women over 40 such as rosacea and dry skin are typically considered to be dermatological issues, but they may be a reflection of something that’s wrong inside the body.

Rosacea is More than Just a Skin Problem

You may have heard people refer to rosacea as “adult acne,” but it’s so much more than pimples and zits. While rosacea can result in bumps and pimples, it’s also characterized by facial redness, visible blood vessels, and bloodshot eyes. Those who suffer from rosacea often experience flares during which their symptoms suddenly and very visibly return after remission. While it’s not a life-threatening condition, it can severely and negatively impact those who suffer from it, affecting them personally, socially, and even professionally.

Rosacea is most commonly found in women with fair skin, but that doesn’t mean that people with different skin tones or men can’t develop the condition. In fact, while rosacea is more common in women than in men, the more severe cases are often found in men.

We don’t fully understand what causes rosacea, but it’s often attributed to stress, anxiety, genetics, mites that live on our skin, or even a stomach infection caused by a specific bacterium. Rosacea is typically treated by antibiotics and ointments, but these treatments might only lessen the symptoms of the condition. These treatments try to target rosacea on the surface rather than address the root cause of the disorder to stop it at the source.

Is Our Immune System The Cause of Rosacea?

A number of studies have been conducted on rosacea in an effort to better understand the condition and what triggers it. At least two studies have found that it may be an antimicrobial peptide produced by our immune system that causes the symptoms of rosacea.

The immune systems of rosacea patients produce abnormal amounts of antimicrobial peptides known as cathelicidins, causing the body’s defense system to overreact in a way similar to an allergic response. These cathelicidins are associated with inflammation and large blood vessels.

Sound familiar? It’s because two of the key symptoms of rosacea are inflammation and enlarged blood vessels. It might not be a mere coincidence that rosacea patients tend to have high levels of cathelicidins. Those cathelicidins, produced by the body with the intent of protecting it from invasive microorganisms, may be the cause of rosacea-related inflammation. As if that weren’t enough, rosacea patients often have high levels of an enzyme that activates cathelicidins and further enables the problem.

But why do the immune systems of people with rosacea produce high amounts of cathelicidins? Could it be that washing the face with soap neutralizes the pH of the skin, allowing bacteria to proliferate and cause problems? Could it be that the immune systems of those with rosacea don’t produce antibodies correctly? Could it be that there’s just too much bacteria on their skin?