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Ask the Dermatologist: Why is Santa's Nose Red?

Santa Claus suffers from a common condition known as erythematotelangectatic rosacea.

This skin disease is caused by inappropriate growth and dilation of the superficial blood vessels of the skin, typically on the nose and cheeks, and leads to persistent redness of the skin and a tendency to flush and blush. Here are some of the most common triggers that can make rosacea worse:

  • Sunlight - Santa only works one night a year, but during the polar summer, the North Pole can receive daylight all twenty-four hours. UV rays also reflect off of snow and ice, and Santa wears a hat without a brim, so he probably gets a lot of unprotected sun exposure.

  • Stress - Let’s see, millions of presents delivered in 1 night…

  • Alcohol - He’s got to deal with that stress somehow!

  • Spicy food - One of Santa’s favorites for keeping warm is mulled cider.

  • Wind and Cold - Seems obvious.

  • Exercise - When your belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly, it’s probably time to hit the gym, even though Santa’s face is probably pretty red at the end of a tough workout thanks to the increased blood flow and body temperature caused by exercise.

There are a few good treatments for dealing with this type of rosacea.

  • Topical medications, including Mirvaso and Rhofade, work as vasoconstrictors. These medications cause the superficial blood vessels in the skin to clamp down and squeeze the excess blood away, thereby decreasing redness.

  • Laser treatments, specifically the pulsed dye laser, are vascular-specific lasers that target the red pigment in blood. They rapidly heat and rupture the superficial blood vessels in the skin. The body breaks down the damaged vessels, removing the underlying cause of skin redness.

If you don’t want to look like Santa this holiday season, make an appointment to see us and we’ll make facial redness a ghost of Christmas past!



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