The scarlet woman

The scarlet woman

The Valentine’s night debrief has become something of a ritual amongst my girlfriends. And, usually, it goes something like this: singles talk “relationship El Niño” (yes, that’s a direct quote on the single/sweet/straight man-drought vs. date deluge phenomenon) and the coupled-up call in reports on sigh-worthy romance or “nomance”. Invariably we agree we’ll all grow old together, whatever – and that we’re fabulous.

But last night, one girlfriend’s tale trumped them all: her life’s too rosy and way too hot under her collar…

This is a girl who has always had a gorgeous peaches and cream complexion. But, she reports, lately her enviably rosy-cheeked ‘glow’ has gotten out of control. Random blushes have morphed into full-face flushes and so much as looking at a treadmill triggers cheeks that stay scarlet for days. Equally annoyingly, the redness feels fiery and her long-loved moisturiser “sometimes stings like mad”.

“So what’s the deal?” she quizzed me over a flute of French bubbles.

I think my friend might have early rosacea. The persistent flushing, the sensitivity and the heat are all trademarks of hyper-reactive blood vessels flooding with blood more than they should. I tried not to alarm her. 

But she went off anyway. “So I’m going to get a cauliflower nose?!?!” she yelped, hysterical punctuation in her voice. 

Nooooo,” I soothed, explaining that, left untreated, rosacea can progress that far, but avoiding your flare-tripwires and using calming skincare can help keep it under control. “It is manageable,” I assured her. “Figure out what makes you flush and avoid it as much as possible,” I suggested as a starting point. “And try taking less intense classes and using cool compresses at the gym.” I also promised to email her this link to an article about rosacea that I wrote a while back and, because a professional diagnosis is crucial, details of a good dermatologist.

“And you’ll be needing me to finish the last of the French,” I finally broke gently. “Alcohol can be flare-inducing.” That’s what girlfriends are for…

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