What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a common chronic skin disease that primarily effects the facial skin and is characterized by flare-ups and reoccurrence. It is estimated that rosacea effects over 16 million Americans and typically begins after age 30. It starts as a redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead. There are many signs of rosacea such as flushing or blushing of the skin. This redness tends to come and go and is usually the earliest sign of the disorder. This often resembles a sunburn that does not go away. You may feel burning or stinging sensations on the face, dry or rough skin and even plaques. As time goes on, the redness tends to become more lasting. Small red solid bumps and pus-filled pimples often develop if rosacea is left untreated. One of the more uncommon signs of rosacea is eye irritation. This causes the eyes to be watery or bloodshot and even swollen. Treatments for rosacea include oral and topical medications, lifestyle changes, laser and light therapies and surgical procedures. These treatments are often combined in order for the patient to see better results.
The cause of rosacea is unknown, but it may be linked to hereditary or environmental factors. There are triggers that can aggravate rosacea by increasing the blood flow to the surface of your skin. Some of these factors include hot foods or beverages, spicy foods, alcohol, sunlight, extreme temperatures, stress and even hot baths. Women who have fair skin are most likely to develop rosacea, although anyone can develop it.
In severe and rare cases, the oil glands (sebaceous glands) in your nose and cheeks can become enlarged, which results in buildup of the tissue on and around your nose. This is a condition called rhinophyma. This complication is more common in men and develops over time.
- Flushing and persistent facial redness
- Visible blood vessels (telangiectasia)
- Sensitive skin
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Commonly confused with acne
- Bumps (papules)
- Pimples (pustules)
- Red patches
- Effects mostly women of middle age
- Thickened skin, typically around the nose
- Enlargement of the nose
- Irregular surface nodules (bump-like lesions)
- Watery or blood shot eyes
- Tearing and burning
- Swollen eyelids
- Recurrent styes
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
Although there is not a cure for rosacea, there are treatments available that can control and reduce the signs and symptoms of it. One of the most important things you can do if you have rosacea is minimize your exposure to anything that causes flare-ups. It is recommended you wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. For individuals living in colder climates, it is important to wear a scarf or ski-mask to protect your skin from the cold. Gentle cleansers such as EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser, Dove or Cetaphil are recommended.
Prescription medications such as antibiotics and acne drugs are sometimes prescribed. These antibiotics can come in a cream, gel, lotion and even pill form to treat the affected area. The most commonly used antibiotic to treat bacterial infections, including those associated with acne, is doxycycline. Your dermatologist may prescribe a form of doxycycline to treat your rosacea, because of its anti-inflammatory effects. If antibiotics don’t work, your dermatologist may suggest starting isotretinoin. This is a powerful drug that is also used to treat severe cystic acne. Typically you’ll notice an improvement within one to two months.
Your doctor may also recommend laser treatment or electro surgery. Laser treatments are used to shrink a bumpy or swollen nose, reduce the persistent redness or decrease the number of blood vessels that may be visible. Multiple treatments are usually necessary to achieve optimal results.