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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Acne Rosacea

When I was small I had flaxen hair and very fair skin. We lived in a seventeenth century thatched cottage without central heating and often in the winter there was frost on the inside of the diamond paned windows. I felt the cold and would sit as close to the open fire as was safe. In retrospect the extremes of temperature were probably not at all good for my skin but I never had any problems with it through my teens. It was after a family trauma which brought on the peri-menopause that things started to go pear shaped and I developed acne rosacea. At first it was just a little patch but then it spread and gradually got worse and worse. Initially I went on a low dose of anti-biotics which helped a little but I didn't want to stay on those for ever, although some people choose that path and I have no problem with that. But, after reading about an increasing prevalence of acne rosacea I thought it might be helpful to relate my own ways of coping with this challenging and frustrating condition.

At its worst the state of my skin badly affected my confidence; it was red, flaking, breaking out in pustules and nothing really helped until my husband found The Sher Clinic in London. Unfortunately The Sher Clinic is no longer around but the principles I learned there have helped me enormously over the last eight years. I'm not a medical expert and obviously a doctor should be your first port of call but if you have been down that route and are still looking for answers hopefully the following might help. I'm very aware that some of the things which have worked for me may not work for others but if my methods of coping help just one person it will be worth it because I know just how confidence sapping acne rosacea can be.

Firstly, in my case the rosacea definitely is not helped by stress. At The Sher Clinic they did say that a lot of people who suffer from it can trace the beginnings back to an extremely stressful experience in their lives. Obviously we all experience stress from time to time but I do try to keep things calm and balanced as far as is possible.

Secondly, I have avoided wheat products for many years as I am severely intolerant to them. But several months ago after a recent worsening of the condition, I went gluten free as I read that synchronicity in breakouts (which was occurring to me,  i.e. if I got a spot on one cheek, a couple of days later I'd get a spot on the other in exactly the same place), can be an indication of gluten intolerance. Cutting out gluten has definitely helped. It took a few weeks to notice an improvement but I am sure this change for the better is not a coincidence.

I have begun to drink Clipper organic green tea which I am also convinced has helped. (My sister in law also credits green tea with calming her asthma). I do try to wait until it has cooled a little - I was prone to drinking my drinks when they were very hot. I rarely drink coffee but dandelion tea is good as it helps to cleanse the liver.

My daughter and I make smoothies, the one which my skin seems to like the most is banana, soya milk and a handful of spinach. Trust me, it tastes a lot better than it looks!

I try to eat as well as possible although I am partial to a piece of cake every afternoon!
When my rosacea flared up a few months ago I did try an alkaline diet for a few days which seemed to help, but I did find it hard to stick to. I do think it probably kick-started the healing process though.

Avocados are good and lots of salads which I think of as cooling foods.

Alcohol is not good but I don't drink much anyway, although I am partial to the odd glass of prosecco and you can't deny yourself entirely!

I take zinc supplements and vitamin B. At the Sher Clinic they also recommended a tablespoonful of Cool Oil (I take it in some juice) which is a combination of Omega 3,6 and 9.

Another Sher Clinic recommendation was to drink a glass of water before and after every meal, room temperature, not too cold.

Then there is the skincare itself. The Sher Clinic had their own products which are no longer available so I have devised my own routine.

In the morning I wash my face with Balance Me Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm. Following this I splash my face with tepid water at least fifteen times.

Gently pat dry skin.

I apply Jason's vitamin e oil, 5,000i.u. It seems strange applying oil to your face when you have spots but trust me it does work. The Sher Clinic had their own oil and I don't know what it contained but after trial and error I have found this vitamin e oil to suit my skin the best.

Apply moisturiser - again Balance Me Moisture Rich Face Cream. I just love their products and the eye cream is lovely too.

I have changed my make up and try to buy organic products so that I am not applying any nasties to my skin. At the moment I am using Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation. To be honest it's not perfect. I'm still on the hunt for that perfect coverage and colour.

In the evening I remove my make-up with tepid water on cotton wool, followed by washing my face with the Balance Me again. More splashing! And that is it. I don't apply any night-time products, just let my skin rest at night.

It may sound complicated and time-consuming but to be honest it is part of my daily routine and is worth it. I know that I am more than my skin but when my rosacea was at its worst I thought that was the first thing which people saw and at times I just wanted to hide away. I accept that this is something I will always have to live with and in the grand scheme of things it could be far worse. But the face we show to the world can impact hugely on our confidence and if you suffer from rosacea or know someone who does I hope that a few of these tips will help.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Keukenhof 2016

There was a report in the paper recently which stated that our gardens are where we feel happiest at home. I love getting out in the garden, especially now the days are getting warmer and longer. But I also love visiting other gardens and Keukenhof in Holland is somewhere my husband and I have wanted to visit for ages. Last week we finally made it.

I honestly didn't know quite what to expect. I knew that I was going to see a fantastic display of bulbs. I knew that it was in a parkland setting and I knew that the theme this year was 'The Golden Age', but it was so much better than I imagined. There really is only one word to describe it and that is WOW! Words really can't do it justice so here are a few pictures to hopefully brighten your day.

Thrushes are normally so shy so for this one to come almost within touching distance felt like a real treat.

And across the waterways at the back of the gardens were the rainbow hues of the bulb fields.

According to a study in the journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening being in a garden allows stimulation of the senses, the experience of positive emotions and the restoration of impaired mental resources amongst other things. Keukenhof must surely provide all of those things in abundance. The colours, the patterns, the combination of flowers, the sheer beauty of it all is just so uplifting. We didn't want to leave. But I plan to make a collage of my photos and put them on my kitchen wall so every day I'll have another little taste of Keukenhof 2016.

Thank-you for reading. Hoping you have a lovely week.