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Couperosis

Couperosis is a persistent non-inflammatory dilatation of small skin vessels manifested by small vascular stars or nets.

Is it considered to be a disease? With isolated dilated capillaries, it is only a cosmetic defect. Fortunately, pathologic dilatation of capillaries is quite rare, as a rule. The total length of capillaries in a human body is 10 000 km, while the length of vessels affected by couperosis can be measured in centimeters. They usually don’t produce a considerable effect on the blood supply in local tissues.

In the case when deep blood vessels are affected, the blood supply can worsen leading to untimely flabby, wrinkled and unhealthy looking skin.  

Couperosis can be both an “independent” problem and a symptom of other diseases, such as rosacea or the liver damage.

Causes of couperosis development 

Dry, thin and delicate skin is affected most often. But isolated dilated vessels can also appear on the thick and greasy skin of the face, especially on the nose.

Heredity. If one of the parents suffers from markedly manifested couperosis, the likelihood of its development in the children is rather high.

Ultraviolet radiation. Excessive sunbathing and visiting solariums contributes not only to general photo-aging of the skin but also to the damage in vascular walls.

Difference in temperatures. Extremely low or high temperature produces a negative effect on the body tissues. Even one-time and not severe frostbite may result in the development of couperosis. People working at “hot shops” at the plants can also have couperosis, which can develop even on the coarse and thick male skin. Spicy and hot food, chocolate and coffee may also contribute to the disease development.

Alcohol. Even moderate use of alcoholic drinks can be harmful for the patients with couperosis.

Smoking.  This harmful habit produces an unfavorable effect on all cardiovascular system affecting even very fine capillaries of the face.

Stress. Stressful situations can provoke the appearance of couperosis. Emotional experience causes an increase in the blood pressure leading to a destruction of the capillary walls.

Liver diseases, hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders.

Couperosis can be one of the outer manifestations of internal diseases.

Incorrect care. Aggressive cosmetology procedures can make the skin thin and deprived of water, damaging its vascular network or increasing its susceptibility to other factors.

In rare cases, the disease can be caused by the tick Demodex Folliculorum parasitizing in the orifice of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles.

There are three main stages of couperosis. Each of them is characterized by general unpleasant sensations, such as itching, tingling in the skin, redness and sometimes inflammation; as well as by some specific symptoms.

  • The 1st stage is manifested by “hot flushes” (redness) of the face often occurring without any obvious reasons. Later, the redness disappears without any noticeable signs, because the vessels are still elastic enough to contract to their normal state.
  • The 2nd stage is characterized by the appearance of a vascular picture, telangiectasis (stars). It means that the vessels are not able to return to normal state after dilatation. This is usually the reason to apply to a doctor.
  • During the 3d stage, chronic disturbances of micro-circulation occur, which result in insufficient nourishment of the skin and, consequently, lead to an inflammation.

Couperosis occurs more often:

  • in women as compared with men;
  • in people with the fair skin;
  • at the age of 30-50 years old;
  • in people with a sensitive, delicate skin.

Treatment of couperosis

            Before starting the treatment, it is necessary to determine what caused the disease. If the appearance of telangiectasias was caused by some disease of the inner organs, it is necessary to treat this disease. Besides, treatment of the skin will only remove manifestations of the disease, but it will not prevent the appearance of new ones.

Good results can be reached by using a complex approach, because the main methods of treatment complement one another and affect different levels of the body. And, naturally, the earlier you start the treatment, the more rapidly you will get a positive effect.

Special diet. You should limit the use of spicy and hot food, as well pickles, chocolate, yeast products, tomatoes, tea, coffee, alcoholic drinks, etc. 

Everyday skin care. It is important to use special means for everyday skin care, which do not destroy the protective layer of the epidermis and do not contain spirit and abrasive substances. Usually, they include extracts of a chestnut, bilberries, green tea, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, rutin, collagen and grape bones oil.

You should avoid using coarse towels, it is better to wipe the skin with a soft napkin. Scrubs and abrasives are recommended in this case.  You’d better see a cosmetologist who will advise you professional care for sensitive skin.

Before going out, you should apply some protective cream (to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays, wind or frost depending on the weather conditions). Men are recommended to use electric razors.

Vitamin therapy.  It involves the use of food supplements and special cosmetics. The main components include:

  • flavonoids (Vitamin P), which contribute to the skin elasticity and decrease fragility of the capillaries;
  • Vitamin K that reduces vascular wall permeability and increases its strength;
  • Vitamin C that leads to the new collagen formation, strengthens the vascular wall and has vasoconstrictive properties.

All the above-mentioned methods have a local short effect and are effective only at the initial (first) stage of the disease. In more complicated cases, the patient should apply to a specialist who will advise proper therapy.

The main cosmetic procedures for treating couperosis  

There is a large number of cosmetic and medical procedures for treating more marked telangiectasis. Their choice depends on individual peculiarities of the patient, the level of the disease progression and financial possibilities of the patient. These procedures include the following:

  • Elecrocoagulation, that is, cauterization of the vessels using hair electrode. This method allows removing even pronounced manifestations of couperosis, but in some cases, there may remain small scars or pigmented spots.
  • Mesotherapy includes microinjections of the drugs strengthening the vascular walls and improving blood circulation. This procedure can be performed both for treatment and prophylaxis.
  • Laser therapy involves cauterization of vessels with a laser beam. This is one of the most widely used methods due to a rapid and obvious effect, short rehabilitation period and relative painlessness.
  • Phototherapy is treatment by flashes of the light. It is used in widespread telangiectasis and for removing other skin defects (pigmented spots, acne, etc.).
  • Ozone therapy includes introduction of ozone-oxygen mixture into the vascular lumen with the help of a micro-needle. This method allows the removal of couperosis manifestations without consequent formation of scars or pigmented spots.
  • Medical plastic massage, unlike usual massage of the face, which is contraindicated in couperosis; is successfully used to remove skin defects, as well as for prophylaxis. Since it results in the improved skin vitality, manifestations of couperosis decrease considerably.

Prophylaxis  

  • Mesotherapy using the drugs strengthening the vascular walls.
  • Professional care of the sensitive skin contributing to strengthening the blood vessels.
  • Beautytek-therapy, lymph-drainage massage of the face, including LPG Lift-6 that improves the condition of facial blood vessels.
  • Ingestion of Vitamins C and P, phytotherapy (arnica, horse chestnut and rose hips).
  • Diet with limited use of alcohol, coffee, hot and spicy food.
  • The main aim of home care includes moisturizing and protection. Moisturizers should be used at home and protective creams when going out. This especially important in the cold period of the year.
  • Sun creams should be used regularly.
  • In the case when couperosis is manifested by rosacea (pink acne), this should be treated.

Besides, the development of couperosis can indicate general predisposition of the body to vascular dilatation. This increases the chances of further appearance of other related problems, from varicose veins to a stroke. Therefore, prevention of the disease is most important.    

E.V. Zhalovskaya, doctor-dermatovenerologist (cosmetologist)