Aside from acne, there is another skin condition affecting millions of people nowadays. This skin condition is called rosacea. This might sound new to some, but rosacea is just one of the various skin conditions adding burden to the lives of many people. In the US alone, there are 14 million confirmed cases of people suffering from rosacea. In fact, the number could actually be more than that.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic facial skin disorder characterized by redness and inflammation of the skin mostly on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. In some cases, rosacea may also appear in other areas such as the neck, ears, scalp, and chest.
Rosacea has been observed to develop after the age of 30. Most cases are commonly seen in women with fair skin, but severe cases of rosacea are observed in men. This could be related to the fact that men, unlike women, do not seek early medical attention.
People who tend to flush or blush easily are said to be at high risk of rosacea. Over time, skin redness becomes more persistent. Rosacea can also be mistaken for acne or skin allergy. It is important that this skin condition be treated as soon as possible as it tends to worsen in just a short span of time. Left untreated, rosacea can lead to an acne breakout, bumps, and development of excess swollen tissues on the nose. Redness and irritation of the eyes are also observed with rosacea.
There is no known cure for rosacea as of yet. However, if detected and treated early, severe cases of rosacea can be prevented. In fact, available medical therapies, if used at the early stage, can control and revert the symptoms of rosacea.
What Causes Rosacea?
At this time, the causes of rosacea are still a mystery for the medical world. However, researchers suspect that rosacea is caused by the following:
- Blood vessel disorder that causes skin swelling and redness
- Genetic issues worsened by other environmental factors that cause skin irritation
- Skin mites that clog skin gland openings
Medical researchers are still in their continuous quest to find the reason behind the development of rosacea in human skin.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Rosacea?
Early detection and treatment are the keys to preventing rosacea from developing to its worst state. In this view, it is essential that everyone knows the various signs and symptoms of rosacea. To help you out, here is the list of symptoms you can refer to.
Common and Primary Signs and Symptoms
- Blushing. One of the earliest signs of rosacea is blushing or flushing. The majority of people with rosacea have a history of frequent blushing.
- Persistent redness. Most people with rosacea may experience persistent redness even without sun or chemical exposure. In most cases, this symptom is mistakenly identified as an allergic reaction to something or sunburn.
- Bump and acne. People with rosacea commonly develop small solid red bumps and acne filled with pus. Whiteheads, blackheads, and irritated skin are normally observed in the affected area.
- Visible blood vessels. Small facial blood vessels are normally seen in people with rosacea.
Other Potential Signs and Symptoms of Rosacea
Aside from the most common signs and symptoms of rosacea mentioned above, in some cases, other potential symptoms may arise. These are the following:
- Eye irritation. The majority of people with rosacea will experience eye irritation. This is characterized by watery and red eyes. This condition is called ocular rosacea. Other parts like your eyelids may also get swollen and most of the time, people with rosacea get styes.
- Skin thickening. People with rosacea may develop rhinophyma. This condition is characterized by thickening of the skin, mostly on the nose, due to the development of excess tissue. Rhinophyma is more common in men than women with rosacea.
- Dry appearance. Affected areas are normally rough and dry in appearance.
- Burning and stinging. People with rosacea may also feel a burning or stinging sensation in the face. They may also feel tightness and itching on facial skin.
- Plaques. Red patches known as plaques are also a potential sign that a person may have rosacea. Plaques may develop even without any change in the surrounding skin.
Rosacea and Its 4 Subtypes
Rosacea comes in 4 types classified depending on the signs and symptoms and severity of the case. These four subtypes are:
- Subtype 1. This subtype is also known as erythematotelangiectatic rosacea. This condition is normally characterized by frequent blushing and redness and in some cases, visible blood vessels may be observed. In addition, a burning and stinging sensation may also be experienced by people with erythematotelangiectatic rosacea. Swelling, roughness, and scaling may also happen on the facial skin.
- Subtype 2. This subtype is also known as papulopustular rosacea. This subtype is characterized by symptoms like persistent redness including solid small bumps and pimples. Some people with papulopustular rosacea may also experience raised red patches on affected areas. These red patches are called plaques.
- Subtype 3. This subtype is called phymatous rosacea. This condition is when skin thickening happens. People with subtype 3 rosacea will experience enlargement of the nose due to excess tissue growth which is called rhinophyma. In some rare cases, excess tissue growth may also happen in other areas other than the nose.
- Subtype 4. This subtype is known as ocular rosacea. This condition is characterized by eye irritation. Red and swollen eyes are common in people with ocular rosacea. They may also experience itching and stinging. Eyelids also get swollen and styles may also develop in people with ocular rosacea.
Things That Trigger Rosacea
At present, medical researchers have not yet identified specifically the main cause of rosacea. However, rosacea can be triggered by several factors. These are common things that we sometimes normally ignore not knowing that they play big parts in rosacea development. Here is the list of the things that could trigger rosacea and that which you must avoid.
- Weather and temperature. Exposure to cold and warm temperatures can help develop rosacea. Sun exposure can harm and irritate your skin and cause redness and inflammation. Other factors like humidity, indoor heat, and hot baths can trigger rosacea.
- Watch what you eat or drink. There are some foods and drinks that can encourage rosacea. Watch out for spicy food and alcoholic and hot drinks that could trigger flushing. Also, people with rosacea should avoid dairy products as these types of foods are observed to trigger rosacea. Here is the list of the common foods and drinks you need to avoid. Dairy products (yogurt, sour cream, cheese)
- Alcoholic drinks (red wine, beer, vodka, gin, bourbon, champagne)
- Yeast extract
- Spinach, avocado, eggplant
- Beans and pods
- Red plums, citrus fruits, raisins, figs, tomatoes, bananas
- Marinated meats
- Any spicy food
- Your lifestyle. Smoking is bad for you in every way as it can irritate the skin and make it look older. For other people, getting exposed to a stressful situation triggers rosacea. So as much as possible, do not smoke and avoid stress so you can keep away from rosacea.
- Your medications. There are medications that can trigger rosacea. Examples of these are potent cortisone or steroid medications which can cause the widening of tiny blood vessels on the face. Vasodilator pills can also trigger rosacea. This includes certain blood pressure medications such as thiazide diuretics, nitrates, and calcium channel blockers.
- The products you are using. Skin cleansers and other cosmetic products can irritate the skin that could trigger rosacea Avoid skin cleansers that contain alcohol, peppermint, fragrance, eucalyptus oil, menthol, salicylic acid, clove oil, and witch hazel.
Other important reminders and information to control or avoid rosacea can be provided to you by your dermatologist. Thus, it is important that people who suspect that they might have rosacea should consult a doctor right away to avoid developing a more severe condition.
Rosacea Treatments and Prevention
Rosacea may presently not have a known cure, but severe cases of it can be prevented from developing if it’s diagnosed and treated early. For people experiencing the signs and symptoms mentioned above, it is important that you consult a dermatologist right away for proper treatment and medication. Your dermatologist will prescribe treatment or therapy based on the severity and symptoms you are experiencing. Some of these rosacea treatments are listed below.
- Topical medications. There is a variety of topical medications for rosacea treatment that a dermatologist can prescribe to people with rosacea. Common types of topical medications that can help reduce and control redness are metronidazole, an antibiotic in a form or gel, and azelaic acid. Topical medications are usually used or applied twice a day to achieve their maximum effect. Some people also use these topical medications alternately (antibiotic in the day, azelaic acid at night) and have shown great improvement. Other topical medications that are used to treat rosacea are sodium sulfacetamide, erythromycin, and clindamycin. Also, a new topical prescription gel called brimonidine is showing effectiveness in decreasing redness in rosacea.
- Oral antibiotics. Aside from topical medications, another form of rosacea treatment that your doctor may prescribe is oral antibiotics. These antibiotics are prescribed to reduce inflammation and also to help cure pimples that come with rosacea. The commonly prescribed antibiotics are amoxicillin, doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline.
- Isotretinoin or Accutane. Aside from severe acne, isotretinoin is also prescribed to treat severe and defiant rosacea because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. This rosacea treatment is taken orally daily for a period of four to six months or as indicated by your doctor and comes in the form of a capsule. Unlike other medications with mild side effects, Isotretinoin can cause a high risk of depression and can result in a deformed infant if taken during pregnancy. Other side effects include dry nose and mouth, dry cracked lips, and muscle and joint pain. Thus, people under this medication should be closely monitored by their doctors.
- Mild cleansers. Rosacea, like any other skin condition, is very sensitive. To avoid irritation and flaring up, it is important to use mild cleansers instead of ordinary or harsh soaps. Cleansers like Cetaphil or Purpose are available in any drugstore. It is also advised to wash gently and avoid scrubbing the areas affected to avoid the development of severe rosacea.
- Intense pulse light and laser. Laser lights or intense pulse light therapy can effectively reduce redness and visible blood vessels. It also helps improve skin complexion. This rosacea treatment or therapy can run up to 6 weeks. Patients undergoing this therapy are advised to avoid sun exposure as skin becomes sensitive to sunlight. A topical anesthetic cream is sometimes used to reduce discomfort while undergoing this treatment.
- Photodynamic therapy. This rosacea treatment uses blue light to activate photosensitizer liquid after applying it to the skin. Photodynamic therapy helps reduce redness and inflammation. It normally takes an hour or two to complete this treatment and should be conducted in your dermatologist’s clinic. The effects of this treatment also vary depending on the patient’s condition. You may also experience discomfort while undergoing the treatment.
- Sunblock creams. Sun exposure is one of the many factors that can trigger rosacea. It can flare up redness and inflammation. With this, it is recommended that sunscreen or sunblock creams be used before exposing yourself to the sun. As much as possible, always bring with you your sunscreen or anything that could protect your skin from the harmful sunlight such as using an umbrella or wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Surgery. For severe cases like phymatous rosacea where there is excess tissue growth, surgery might be prescribed by a dermatologist. There are several surgical procedures for rosacea. The most common are cryosurgery, radiofrequency ablation, surgical lasers for bloodless procedures, and electrosurgery tangential excision with scissor sculpturing and skin grafting.
To self-medicate is as good as encouraging your rosacea to develop to its worst stage. It is always best to consult a doctor to get medication that is best suited for your rosacea condition. Your dermatologist can also provide tips on how to properly care for your sensitive skin condition. With a doctor guiding you, you can make sure that you are not doing anything wrong that could cause the rosacea to worsen.
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