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I’ve recently been communicating with online skincare groups, helping dispel some of the myths surrounding intractable skin conditions such as rosacea. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation, which can exacerbate suffering and hinder healing. I posted this open letter on a thread in Google Groups, but I felt that it was important enough to repeat here:

Hi, everyone, hope it’s a good spring for all.

I have to start by saying that I’m an employee (publicist and science writer) at a company that makes skincare products using seabuckthorn, but I’m NOT here to shill for my company, I’d just like to add some info and my POV to your discussions about rosacea, seabuckthorn and Demodex.

The first thing I want to say is about Demodex. As far as I know, although 10% of rosacea sufferers do have an overgrowth of Demodex, no science has yet been published to conclusively determine causation regarding Demodex: in other words, is it actually a cause of rosacea? By no means all dermatologists (or skin care companies using seabuckthorn) believe it is. It is actually more likely to be an effect – of inflammation, fluid retention, plugged pores, and immune dysfunction. It may even be, due to the effect of the steroid-antibiotic cycle destroying Mast Cells, an effect of rosacea TREATMENT.

I feel that some parties are using the fear of Demodex (Eeeeek!! Bugs crawling on my skin!!!!!!) to exploit rosacea sufferers. The fact is, we have 400 different microbes living on the surface of our skin (and countless more inside us), and they live in relative harmony except in unique situations. I am saddened when I read posts like the one I read recently where a sufferer told of using almost full-strength tea tree oil on his skin as an anti-microbial; tea tree oil is a wonderful product, but it is much, much too strong (even diluted) for the sensitive skin of a rosacea sufferer – and it’s probably totally unnecessary anyway! Even in cases where a patient’s rosacea is caused by Demodex (and I’m not convinced, but some may be), topical preparations will not solve the problem, because Demodex lives on in the pores. The same goes for leaving soap on your skin for a long time. It’s very very bad for rosacea sufferers, whose skin is very fragile, and for whom the tiny cracks and tears that can be caused by long exposure to alkaline products can add to the inflammatory cycle.

For the rosacea sufferers who have been helped by seabuckthorn-based products, I believe (and there is way more science supporting this than the Demodex hysteria), that it is properties other than its anti-microbial quality that have helped them. Seabuckthorn is a powerful anti-inflammatory; it reduces interstitial fluid (the clear plasma that is in some pustules/papules and that clogs inflamed areas); it strengthens cell walls and, more importantly, blood vessels; it reduces cell death; it moderates immune and inflammatory responses; and it promotes healing.

I’m not saying all these things because I want you to rush out and buy seabuckthorn products. For the people who say that seabuckthorn has science proving its ability to heal psoriasis and atopic/seborrhoeic dermatitis, burns etc but NOT rosacea; that’s true, SO FAR. At my company, the anecdotal evidence is quite strong, although our products do not help everyone. The point I’m trying to make is, if you try a product using seabuckthorn and it doesn’t work for you, for whatever reason, don’t continue to use it!! But please don’t avoid trying seabuckthorn (especially the pure seed oil, which IMO is the best treatment for rosacea sufferers) because you don’t BELIEVE it can kill Demodex.

Rosacea sufferers: take gentle care of your skin. Watch out for dryness, don’t over-treat. Take care of your health, by avoiding triggers, eating well, and living a happy life. Treat pharmaceuticals with caution. Keep on the lookout for potential allergens. Don’t let yourself get too elated or discouraged by your or others’ successes or failures; the same products don’t work for everyone, and they don’t always work forever. Best wishes, all my love. Natalie, May 9, 2007

 At Seabuckthorn International, we feel very strongly about improving the quality of life for intractable skin condition sufferers, whether or not the answer is seabuckthorn. Accurate information is the first step.

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