Rosacea is a common, chronic skin condition that affects up to 10 percent of the population, although many people are unaware that they have it. It usually affects the face, causing redness and the formation of small, pus-filled bumps similar to acne, and, like other skin conditions, can cause emotional distress for the sufferer. Rosacea typically affects fair-skinned women between 30 and 60 years of age. It can first appear during menopause, and is more prevalent in people with a family history of the condition. Although rosacea is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, there are several treatments available to relieve its symptoms and prevent flareups.
Triggers of Rosacea Symptoms
Rosacea symptoms, which tend to worsen periodically, can be triggered by the following:
- Hot or spicy food or drink
- Alcoholic beverages
- Extreme temperatures
- Hot baths or saunas
- Anger, embarrassment or stress
- Strenuous exercise
- Medications that dilate blood vessels
- Corticosteroids (such as prednisone)
Although the specific causes of rosacea are unknown, a combination of hereditary and environmental factors appears to be involved.
Symptoms of Rosacea
Symptoms of rosacea are usually visible on the nose, cheeks, mouth and forehead; they occasionally spread to the neck, chest, scalp or ears. Symptoms typically come and go, flaring up for weeks or months, and then fading for a period of time. They tend to worsen as the condition progresses, and are sometimes used to distinguish its four stages.
Pre-rosacea symptoms include frequent flushing or blushing, which progresses to a persistent redness on the face. Vascular rosacea symptoms involve the swelling of small blood vessels (commonly referred to as spider veins and, medically, as telangiectasia) around the nose and cheeks. Oily skin and dandruff are also common during this phase. Inflammatory rosacea is the stage during which small bumps or pustules begin to develop; they then spread across the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. Late rosacea is the most advanced phase, during which all earlier symptoms intensify.
If left untreated, symptoms continue to worsen, and may cause permanent skin damage. Some patients develop a form of the disorder that affects the eyes (ocular rosacea), and which may, in severe cases, affect vision. The symptoms of rosacea may include the following:
- Flushing or blushing easily
- Small red bumps or pustules
- Visible blood vessels
- Burning or stinging
- Dry, irritated eyes
- Red or swollen eyelids
In late rosacea, patients may develop a complication called rhinophyma in which facial tissue builds up and hardens, causing the nose to enlarge and become bulbous. This complication is more common in men than women.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Rosacea
Diagnosis of rosacea is typically made through a simple physical examination of the skin on the face. Sometimes tests are administered to rule out other possible causes, such as eczema or lupus. Although there is no cure for rosacea, several treatments are available to relieve symptoms. Through medical consultation, patients should be able to pinpoint at least some of their symptoms‘ triggers, and learn to avoid them. It may be necessary for them to avoid the sun, spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, or certain medications. Participation in a stress-management program may also be recommended.
Using makeup to disguise rosacea helps many sufferers feel less self-conscious. Medical treatments, the use of which depends on the severity of the condition, may include the following:
- Topical ointments
- Acne medications
- Laser therapy
If the patient is suffering from symptoms of ocular rosacea, oral antibiotics and steroid eye drops may be prescribed.
Is Rosacea Painful?
According to surveys, rosacea can cause both emotional and physical discomfort. We often focus on the emotional toll of rosacea due to the visible signs of the condition causing self-consciousness. However, all aspects of this condition deserve to be addressed. Physically, people with rosacea may experience tingling or burning. These are the two most common symptoms mentioned. Additionally, over 40 percent of people surveyed reported having tender skin in the affected area. Many reported a sensation of tightness, and just under 20 percent of patients also experienced headaches during rosacea flare-ups.
Are Some People Genetically Predisposed to Rosacea?
Studies suggest that there are both genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of rosacea. That said, researchers have yet to identify a particular gene that seems to trigger this condition. What we know at this time is that people with a family history of rosacea are at least four times more likely to develop this chronic condition themselves.
Can Rosacea be a Warning Sign for an Underlying Medical Condition?
Rosacea is not linked to any particular underlying condition. Its primary features are inflammation and vascular reactivity. These factors can be triggered by environmental factors more than other biological processes. Some studies suggest the reverse is possible, that a person with rosacea may have a slightly higher risk of developing other conditions, usually those that are related to chronic inflammation, such as heart disease or Alzheimer's.
Is Rosacea Often Confused with Similar Skin Conditions?
Yes. The symptoms of rosacea include redness, swelling, and spots on the skin that resemble pimples. For this reason, rosacea is often mistaken for acne. Depending on the extent of redness and other symptoms, the condition may also look like eczema. Lupus, through systemic inflammation, also sometimes causes a facial rash that may appear similar to rosacea. A dermatologist knows how to differentiate between these conditions and devise an appropriate treatment plan.
Are People of a Certain Age More Prone to Rosacea?
Yes. Rosacea is rarely seen in children and is sometimes seen in adolescents. It is most common among adults over the age of 30, often who have a family history of this condition and also have a fair complexion.
Schedule a Rosacea Consult with Dr. Skopit!
To learn more about Rosacea or to determine whether you are a candidate for Rosacea treatment, please book a personalized appointment with top dermatologist Dr. Stanley Skopit today. Call (954) 807-9433 or fill out the Appointment Request Form on this page. Dania Dermatology looks forward to serving you!