Rosacea, (rose-AY-sha) is a skin disease that causes redness and swelling on the face. Often wrongly referred to as adult acne, rosacea may begin with redness in the center of the face that gradually covers the cheeks and chin. As the disease progresses, small blood vessels and tiny pimples begin to appear on and around the reddened area.
Unlike acne, there are no blackheads or whiteheads. This disease affects mainly the forehead, the chin and the lower half of the nose.
When it first develops, rosacea may appear, disappear, and then reappear a short time later. When the skin does not return to its normal color and when other symptoms, such as pimples and enlarged blood vessels, become visible, it is best to seek advice from a dermatologist. The condition rarely reverses itself and may last for years. It will become worse without treatment.
What are the symptoms of Rosacea?
As rosacea progresses, pimples appear on the face in the form of small, solid red bumps and pus-filled bumps. These may be accompanied by a condition called telangiectasia (te-LAN-jek-TAY-sha) -- thin, red lines caused by enlarged blood vessels on the surface of the skin. Rosacea may also be accompanied by oily skin, and possibly dandruff.
In more advanced cases of rosacea, a condition called rhinophyma (ryno-fee-ma) may develop. This is characterized by a bulbous, enlarged red nose and puffy cheeks. It may also involve thick bumps that develop on the lower half of the nose, spreading to the nearby cheek areas. Rhinophyma rarely occurs in women .
The eyes may also become involved. Approximately half of all rosacea patients experience burning and irritation of the eyes - a condition commonly known as ocular rosacea.
Who is at risk for Rosacea?
Rosacea, which is rare in childhood, develops over a long period of time. It may first seem like a tendency to blush easily, a ruddy complexion, or an extreme sensitivity to cosmetics.
Those most likely to develop rosacea are fair-skinned adults, especially women, between the ages of 30 and 50. The disease may affect men or women of any age. For some unknown reason, women get rosacea more often than men. Some cases of this disorder have been associated with menopause.
Certain drugs may dilate the blood vessels in the skin and make rosacea worse. Strong steroid-containing creams may also cause or aggravate rosacea.
How can I control my Rosacea?
Drinking too much alcohol of any type, spicy foods, hot drinks and smoking will cause blood to rush to the affected areas and aggravate flushing. It's important to note, that although alcohol may worsen a case of rosacea, symptoms may be just as severe in someone who doesn't drink at all. This condition has been wrongly linked to alcoholism, harming many innocent people. (Unfortunately, comedian W.C. Fields had a severe case of rosacea resulting in rhinophyma and he often drank.)
- Limiting exposure to sunlight, or extreme hot and cold temperatures will help relieve the symptoms of rosacea.
- Rubbing or massaging the face should also be avoided because it will tend to irritate the reddened skin.
- Avoiding irritating cosmetics and using hair sprays properly will help prevent redness and swelling.
What treatments are available for Rosacea?
Many people affected by rosacea are unfamiliar with it, so identifying the disease is the first step to controlling it.
Dermatologists recommend a combination of treatments. Each will be tailored to the individual patient. Together, these programs can stop the progress of rosacea and sometimes reverse it. Self diagnosis and treatment are not recommended, as some over-the-counter skin applications may make the problem worse.