Rosacea

Discover more about rosacea, an inflammatory vascular condition and the treatment options available.

Rosacea is a common skin problem. Skin is sensitive and prone to inflammation commonly causing redness and more pronounced blood vessels of the central face, in addition to red bumps and pustules. Less commonly, the inflammation can affect the eye (ocular rosacea), or be so significant that it causes enlargement of facial features like the nose or chin. Patients can have permanent redness of the face, or be more prone to flushing, in which case the redness fluctuates.

There are four sub-types of rosacea, and it is not uncommon to experience more than one at a time:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea causes facial flushing and redness, broken blood vessels, swelling and sensations of stinging and burning.
  • Papulopustular rosacea appears as intermittent bumps, pimples and red patches.
  • Phymatous rosacea results in thickening of the skin, creating an enlarged, irregular, reddened look.
  • Ocular rosacea occurs when rosacea affects the eyes, creating recurrent styes, bloodshot and watery eyes, swollen eyelids, burning and tearing.

Causes

The exact cause for rosacea is still unknown; however, genetics and immune dysfunction leading to hypersensitivity to certain triggers are thought to play a role.

Women are much more likely than men to be affected by rosacea, especially women between the ages of thirty and fifty. People with light skin are more likely to develop rosacea, as are those with a family history.

Additionally, there are many triggers for rosacea, including:

  • Extreme temperatures, on their own transitioning quickly
  • Sunlight exposure
  • Food & drink including alcohol, spicy food, temperature hot food, caffeine
  • Exercise
  • Certain treatments for acne can flare underlying rosacea
  • Emotional or situational stress

Symptoms

Rosacea has a variety of presentations but typically manifests with underlying inflammation and skin sensitivity. Skin can appear: flushed, swollen and have signs of increased dryness with rough or scaly textures. Rosacea can also share qualities with acne like inflamed bumps and pustules. More prominent and an increased number of burst blood vessels is also a common finding. Skin can feel lie it is burning. Itching or stinging.

The increased inflammation associated with rosacea can make the skin thicker in places like the chin or nose. Rosacea can also present as inflammation on and around the eyes leading to more visible blood vessels, large cysts, and poor vision, along with the aforementioned symptoms of rosacea found on the rest of the face.

Treatment

Daily sun protection and gentle skin care are the basis of a common treatment plan for many patients with rosacea. Also, topical creams and oral medications may be prescribed. Lasers can target the associated redness, blood vessels, or enlargement of facial features. 

There is no absolute way to prevent rosacea, but avoiding triggers and maintaining a good skin care routine outlined by a dermatologist can decrease flares.

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