Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that causes redness and swelling, primarily on the face. Other areas that can be affected are the scalp, neck, ears, chest and back. Sometimes, rosacea affects the eyes.
The disorder is characterized by swelling, pimples, and in the advanced stages, thickened skin. Rosacea patients may also have skin that is unusually vulnerable to chemical and physical irritants.
Rosacea causes facial swelling and redness, it is easily confused with other skin conditions, such as acne and sunburn. For this reason, rosacea is known as the great pretender, and often incorrectly referred to as adult acne.
Who Gets Rosacea
Rosacea most commonly afflicts adults between the ages of 30 and 60 though it has been know to afflict children. Symptoms usually start to appear to people in their 30s or 40s. Men and women are equally likely to to be affected and there seems to be a genetic aspect to the disease. In one survey, forty percent of rosacea sufferers surveyed could identify a relative with the symptoms of rosacea. There is a reasonably common belief the people of Irish or Northern European descent are more likely to be affected though some studies have not necessarily supported this.
Causes of Rosacea
The causes of rosacea have not been scientifically proven. It is hoped that ongoing research in these areas will lead to improvements in its management and potential prevention or cure.
Sun-damaged skin is a major contributing factor. Certain “triggers” can cause the disease to get worse. These triggers vary from person to person, but common examples include excessive heat, certain foods, strenuous exercise, stress, and alcohol. Occasionally, lifestyle changes may be necessary to avoid rosacea flare-ups.
Signs and Symptoms
- Avoid things that make the face red or flushed.
- Sun Exposure
- Hot weather
- Drinking alcohol
- Avoid spicy foods
- Hot baths
- Hot drinks
- Cold weather
Treatment of Rosacea
If you believe that you may have Rosacea, the first thing to do is to see your dermatologist. Many of the symptoms of Rosacea could be the result of other ailments. As always when dealing with this sort of situation, professional advice should be your first course of action.
If you have been diagnosed with Rosacea you need to know that there is currently no cure. In fact, the cause of Rosacea is still somewhat of a mystery. Having said this however, the good news is that there are many things that can be done to bring the disease under control and minimize the symptoms and also to prevent the disease from progressing further. In general, the treatment is aimed at the control of redness, inflammation, and skin eruptions. Treatment is necessary to prevent permanent damage.
In most cases, once a diagnosis of Rosacea has been made a dermatologist will prescribed a combination of oral antibiotics and the use of antibiotic gel as initial treatment. The oral antibiotics will bring the condition under control (reducing redness and the formation of papules and pustules), then the topical treatments will be used to keep the symptoms under control.
A couple of important notes
It may take several weeks or more to see any improvement in the conditionSince Rosacea cannot be cured it will often be necessary to continue with topical treatment even after symptoms have been reduced or have disappeared. Your dermatologist will make a recommendation based on your particular situation.
Controlling Flushing and Blushing
It is important to control the flushing & blushing aspects of Rosacea to help prevent the Rosacea from becoming worse. This can be accomplished through various forms of treatment described below as well through lifestyle adjustments.
Metronidazole – In 1989 metronidazole was approved as the first topical treatment specifically for rosacea. It can help to reduce rosacea flare-ups once the rosacea is brought under control. In North America Metronidazole is sold under various brand names including Metrogel (and Metrolotion & Metrocream, all 3 contain .75% metronidazole and are manufacturered by Galderma Laboratories, Inc.) and Noritate (1% metronidazole cream). In Australia and New Zealand the equivalent of Metrogel is called Rozex. Metrocream, Metrolotion and Noritate are not available in Australia.
Azelaic Acid, a treatment sometimes used for acne, has been shown to be effective in treating papules & pustules.
Treating Red Lines
If Rosacea is left untreated, red lines (known as telangiectasis) may appear. These are as a result of blood vessels in the face becoming enlarged or damaged. Currently the only choices for treating these red lines is to cover them with makeup or correct them with surgery.