What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a common skin disease and often begins with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people. The redness can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. Even the ears, chest, and back can be red all the time. Rosacea can cause more than redness. With time, people who have rosacea often see permanent redness in the center of their face.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes facial redness, acne-like pimples, visible small blood vessels on the face, swelling and/or watery, irritated eyes. This inflammation of the face can affect the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead or eyelids. It is not contagious, but there is some evidence to suggest that it is inherited. There is no known cause or cure for rosacea.
Over time, it gets ruddier in color and small blood vessels (like spider veins) may appear on the face. If left untreated, bumps and pimples may form, the end of the nose may become swollen, red and bulbous and eyes may water or become irritated.
Who gets rosacea?
Rosacea is common and generally begins after age 30 and goes through cycles of flare-ups and remissions. Rosacea occurs most often among people with fair skin who tend to blush or flush easily. Women are a bit more likely than men to get rosacea. Women, however, are not as likely as men to get severe rosacea. Some people are more likely to get rosacea, but anyone can get this skin disease. Children and people of all color get rosacea. Most people who get rosacea are:
- Between 30 and 50 years of age.
- Fair-skinned, and often have blonde hair and blue eyes.
- From Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry.
- Likely to have someone in their family tree with rosacea or severe acne.
- Likely to have had lots of acne — or acne cysts and/or nodules.
What causes rosacea?
Scientists are still trying to find out what causes rosacea. Research conducted by the National Rosacea Foundation found that the leading triggers for rosacea are:
- sun exposure
- hot or cold weather
- emotional stress
- heavy exercise
- spicy foods
- hot baths
- heated beverages
- some skin care products
- indoor heat
By studying rosacea, scientists have found some important clues:
- Rosacea runs in families. Many people who get rosacea have family members who have rosacea. It is possible that people inherit genes for rosacea.
- The immune system may play a role. Scientists found that most people with acne-like rosacea react to a bacterium (singular for bacteria) called bacillus oleronius. This reaction causes their immune system to overreact. Scientists still do not know whether this can cause rosacea.
- A bug that causes infections in the intestines may play a role. This bug, H pylori, is common in people who have rosacea. Scientists cannot prove that H pylori can cause rosacea. Many people who do not have rosacea have an H pylori infection.
- A mite that lives on everyone’s skin, demodex, may play a role. This mite likes to live on the nose and cheeks, and this is where rosacea often appears. Many studies found that people with rosacea have large numbers of this mite on their skin. The problem is some people who do not have rosacea also have large numbers of this mite on their skin.
- A protein that normally protects the skin from infection, cathelicidin, may cause the redness and swelling. How the body processes this protein may determine whether a person gets rosacea.
Types of rosacea
There are so many signs and symptoms that rosacea has four subtypes:
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: Redness, flushing, visible blood vessels.
- Papulopustular rosacea: Redness, swelling, and acne-like breakouts.
- Phymatous rosacea: Skin thickens and has a bumpy texture.
- Ocular rosacea: Eyes red and irritated, eyelids can be swollen, and person may have what looks like a sty.
What are the symptoms of rosacea?
Most patients experience multiple symptoms at varying levels of severity. Common symptoms include:
- persistently red skin on the face
- bumps or acne-like pimples
- visible blood vessels on facial skin
- watery or irritated eyes
- burning, itching or stinging of facial skin
- skin roughness and dryness
- raised red patches
- swelling (edema)
These symptoms may also appear on the neck, chest, scalp, and ears.
How to treat rosacea
Like psoriasis and eczema, there is no cure for rosacea at this time. Nonetheless, Affiliated Dermatology can diagnose and provide effective skin disorder treatment for this complaint. Many people are particularly troubled by this ailment because it often appears on the face as redness and bumps filled with pus. Ignoring rosacea symptoms only tends to make them worse, so it’s important to seek proper medical treatment. Rosacea is frequently treated with antibiotics or other oral medications.
While there is no cure for rosacea and each case is unique, your dermatologist may prescribe oral antibiotics and topical medications to reduce the severity of the symptoms. When the condition goes into remission, only topical treatments may be needed. In more severe cases, a vascular laser, intense pulsed light source or other medical devices may be used to remove any visible blood vessels and reduce excess redness and bumpiness on the nose.
How to prevent rosacea flare-ups
To help reduce the incidence of flare-ups, a gentle daily skin care routine is recommended that includes the use of mild, non-abrasive cleansers, soft cloths, rinsing in lukewarm water (not hot or cold), and blotting the face dry (not rubbing). Additionally, individuals with rosacea need to protect themselves from sun exposure by using sunscreens with SPF 15 or higher and sunblocks that eliminate UVA and UVB rays. Patients are also encouraged to keep a record of flare-ups to try and determine the lifestyle and environmental triggers that aggravate the condition.
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For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our several dermatology offices in Arizona, please contact us by calling (480) 556-0446 or leaving us a message with the contact form below.