What Exactly is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that affects over 16 million Americans and 400 million sufferers worldwide. The formal cause of rosacea is uncertain and there is presently no cure. Doctors have been able speculate on causes, and they can treat the condition by minimizing symptoms.
Rosacea is recognizable by its small, red, (often pus-filled) bumps on the skin that are present during flare-ups. Typically, rosacea affects mainly the skin on the nose, cheeks, and forehead, but it can expand beyond to other areas. Flare-ups often occur in cycles, which means sufferers can experience symptoms for weeks or months at a time. The symptoms will go away and return again at a later date.
Types of Rosacea
There are 4 types of Rosacea. They are:
- Subtype 1: Known as Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR), is associated with facial redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels.
- Subtype 2: Known as Papulopustular (or acne) rosacea, is associated with acne-like breakouts, and often affects middle-aged women.
- Subtype 3: Known as Rhinophyma, is a rare form associated with thickening of the skin on your nose. It usually affects men and is often accompanied by another subtype of rosacea.
- Subtype 4: Known as Ocular Rosacea, and its symptoms are centered on the eye area.
NOTE: It is possible to have more than one subtype of rosacea at a time, so be sure to consult your doctor for assistance.
Rosacea symptoms are different between each subtype:
Signs of Rosacea ETR include:
- Flushing and redness in the center of the face
- Visible broken blood vessels
- Swollen skin
- Sensitive skin
- Stinging and burning skin
- Dry, rough, and scaly skin
Signs of Acne Rosacea:
- Acne-like breakouts and very red skin
- Oily skin
- Sensitive skin
- Broken blood vessels that are visible
- Raised patches of skin
Signs of thickening skin:
- Bumpy skin texture
- Thick skin on nose
- Thick skin on chin, forehead, cheeks, and ears
- Large pores
- Visible broken blood vessels
Signs of Ocular Rosacea:
- Bloodshot and watery eyes
- Eyes that feel gritty
- Burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Eyes that are sensitive to light
- Cysts on eyes
- Diminished vision
- Broken blood vessels on eyelids
While the causes are not strongly confirmed, it is thought to be a combination of hereditary and environmental factors that can create the condition. It is known that some things may make rosacea symptoms worse, which include:
- Eating spicy foods
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
- Having the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori
- A skin mite called Demodex and the bacterium it carries, Bacillus Oleronius
- The presence of Cathelicidin (a protein that protects the skin from infection)
Rosacea Risk Factors
There are some factors that will make you more likely to develop rosacea than others:
- Rosacea often develops in people between the ages of 30 and 50.
- It affects common in people who are fair-skinned and have blond hair and blue eyes.
There are also genetic links to rosacea. You are more likely to develop rosacea if you have:
- A family history of the condition or if you have Celtic or Scandinavian ancestors.
- Women are also more likely to develop the condition than men. However, men who develop the condition often have more severe symptoms.
Your doctor can easily diagnose rosacea from a physical examination of your skin. They may refer you to a dermatologist who can determine whether you have rosacea or another skin condition.
Controlling Rosacea Symptoms
- Rosacea cannot be cured, but you can take steps to control your symptoms.
- Make sure to take care of your skin using gentle cleansers and oil-free, water-based skin-care products.
- Shop for oil-free facial creams and moisturizers.
Avoid products that contain:
- Witch hazel
- Exfoliating agents
These ingredients may irritate your skin and your symptoms.
- Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan. This is usually a regimen of antibiotic creams and oral antibiotics.
- Keep a journal of the foods you eat and the cosmetics you put on your skin. This will help you figure out what makes your symptoms worse.
Other management steps might include:
- Avoiding direct sunlight and wearing sunscreen
- Avoiding alcohol consumption
- Using rosacea lasers and light treatments
- Microdermabrasion treatments to reduce thickening skin
- Taking eye medicines and antibiotics for ocular rosacea
Be sure to get your doctor’s assistance with the proper program for you.
Living With Rosacea
As with most chronic conditions, Rosacea can be difficult to cope with. Get support by finding support groups or online message boards. Connecting with other people who have rosacea can help you feel less alone.
While there presently isn’t a known cure for Rosacea, you can control it with treatment. Rosacea affects everyone differently and it can take time to figure out how to manage your condition. The best way to prevent an outbreak is to work with your doctor or health care professional to develop a treatment plan and avoid your triggers. Don’t go it alone! Be sure to consult your doctor at the first sign of this or any skin condition.