Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that typically affects the face. It is characterized by redness, flushing, and bumps or pimples. In some cases, rosacea can also cause the eyes to become irritated and watery. Rosacea is a progressive condition, meaning it can worsen over time. While there is no cure for rosacea, there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms. If left untreated, rosacea can lead to permanent damage to the skin and eyes. Early diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing the progression of this condition.
Types of rosacea
- Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea
This is the most common type of rosacea and is characterized by redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels.
- Papulopustular Rosacea
This type of rosacea is characterized by redness, swelling, and pimples.
- Phymatous Rosacea
This type of rosacea is characterized by thickening of the skin and the development of bumps or nodules.
- Ocular Rosacea
This type of rosacea is characterized by inflammation of the eyes and can lead to watery, irritated eyes.
Symptoms of rosacea
Signs and symptoms of rosacea include:
- Facial redness
Rosacea typically causes a persistent redness in the central part of your face. Tiny blood vessels on your nose and cheeks often swell and become visible. The central facial skin might be rough, and thus appear to be very dry.
- Swollen red bumps
Many people who have rosacea also develop pimples on their faces that resemble acne. These bumps sometimes contain pus. Your skin may feel hot and tender.
- Burning or stinging
Rosacea can cause your face to feel burning, warm and tingly. This is usually a result of the redness in your face.
- Dryness and itching
Other signs and symptoms of rosacea include dry, irritated skin, red eyes, and burning swollen, red bumps on your nose and cheeks.
- Eye problems
About half of the people who have rosacea also experience eye dryness, irritation, and swelling. In some cases, the eyes may be more sensitive to light than usual (photosensitivity).
- Thickening of your skin
In some advanced cases of rosacea, the skin on your nose can thicken and form a bulbous shape (rhinophyma). This is a very rare complication.
Cause of rosacea
Rosacea is likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The exact cause is unknown.
Triggers that can make rosacea worse include:
- Sun exposure: Rosacea often gets worse when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
- Emotional stress: Stress and anxiety can cause rosacea flare-ups.
- Hot weather: Hot, humid weather can make rosacea symptoms worse.
- Wind: Windy conditions can also aggravate your symptoms.
- Exercise: Intense exercise can cause flushing and make your skin more sensitive.
- Alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol, especially red wine, can make rosacea symptoms worse.
- Hot baths or saunas: Taking hot baths or spending time in a sauna can make rosacea symptoms worse.
- Spicy foods: Eating spicy foods can trigger rosacea flare-ups.
- Temperature changes: Sudden changes in temperature, such as from outdoors to indoors, can cause flushing and make your skin more sensitive.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids or drugs that dilate blood vessels, can aggravate rosacea.
- In some cases, rosacea may be mistaken for acne, an allergic reaction or other, skin problems.
Factors that increase your risk of developing rosacea include:
- Family history: Rosacea often runs in families. If one of your parents had rosacea, you may be more likely to develop the condition.
- Age: Rosacea affects is most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 60.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop rosacea than men are. However, men are more likely to develop rosacea. In men, rosacea can cause the nose to take on a bulbous, swollen appearance (rhinophyma).
- Fair skin: People who have fair skin are more likely to develop acne rosacea. Rosacea is more common in people with lighter skin, but it can also develop in people with darker skin.
- Blushing and flushing easily: If you flush or blush easily, you may be more likely to develop rosacea.
There is no cure for rosacea, but treatments can help control the signs and symptoms.
Your treatment plan may include:
- Topical medications
These medications can help reduce redness and inflammation. They're available as creams, gels, lotions, and soaps. Common topical medications include metronidazole (MetroGel) and azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea).
- Oral antibiotics
These drugs can help reduce the inflammation and skin redness of rosacea. Oral antibiotics are usually used for moderate to severe rosacea. Tetracycline, doxycycline (Oracea, Periostat), and minocycline are commonly prescribed antibiotics for rosacea.
If other treatments don't work, your doctor may prescribe this drug. Isotretinoin is derived from vitamin A and is used to treat severe acne. Because of the risk of birth defects, women of childbearing age must use two forms of birth control while taking isotretinoin.
- Laser and intense pulsed light therapy
Laser treatment can help reduce the redness and inflammation of rosacea by targeting the visible blood vessels in your skin.
In some cases, surgery may be used to remove excess tissue from your nose or to correct structural defects that may be causing your signs and symptoms.
There's no sure way to prevent rosacea. However, some lifestyle and skin care measures may help reduce your risk of developing the condition or exacerbating existing rosacea. These include:
- Using sunscreen
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin from the sun. Be sure to apply sunscreen to all sun-exposed areas of your skin, including your face, neck, and ears.
- Avoiding triggers
If you know what triggers your rosacea flare-ups, take steps to avoid them. Common rosacea triggers include hot weather, wind, stress, spicy foods, and alcohol.
- Protecting your skin
Take measures to protect your skin from irritants, such as harsh soaps, detergents, and wind.
- Limiting your sun exposure
Too much sun can worsen rosacea. If you must be in the sun, wear protective clothing, including a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.
- Practicing good skincare
Gently wash your face with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water. Avoid scrubbing your skin or using harsh soaps, astringents, or exfoliating agents. After washing your face, apply a light moisturizer to help protect your skin.
Rosacea is a common condition that causes redness and inflammation of the skin. There is no cure for rosacea, but treatments can help control the signs and symptoms. These include medications, oral antibiotics, isotretinoin, laser, intense pulsed light therapy, and surgery. Some lifestyle and skin care measures may also help reduce your risk of developing a skin condition or exacerbating existing rosacea. These include using sunscreen, avoiding triggers, and protecting your skin.