Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that affects more than 16 million Americans. The cause of
rosacea is still unknown, and there is no cure. However, research has allowed
doctors to develop a course of treatment that effectively controls rosacea by
minimizing its symptoms.
There are four subtypes of rosacea. Each subtype has its own
set of symptoms. It is possible to have more than one subtype of rosacea at a
Rosacea’s trademark are small, red, pus-filled bumps on the
skin that are present during flare-ups. Typically, rosacea affects only skin on
your nose, cheeks, and forehead.
Flare-ups often occur in cycles. This means that you will
experience symptoms for weeks or months at a time, the symptoms will go away,
and then they will return.
Subtype one, known as erythematotelangiectatic rosacea
(ETR), is associated with facial redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels.
Subtype two, papulopustular (or acne) rosacea, is associated
with acne-like breakouts and often affects middle-aged women.
Subtype three, known as rhinophyma, is a rare form that is
associated with thickening of the skin of your nose. It usually affects men and
is often accompanied by another subtype of rosacea.
Subtype four is ocular rosacea, and its symptoms are
centered on the eye area.
Rosacea symptoms are different between each subtype.
Signs of rosacea ETR:
- flushing and redness in the center of your 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
The cause of rosacea has not been determined. It may be a
combination of hereditary and environmental factors. It is known that some
things may make your rosacea symptoms worse. These include:
- eating spicy foods
- drinking alcoholic beverages
- having the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter
- a skin mite called demodex and the bacterium it
carries, Bacillus oleronius
- the presence of cathelicidin (a protein that
protects the skin from infection)
Factors for Rosacea
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 is also more 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
Do I Know if I Have Rosacea?
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.
Can I Control My Symptoms?
Rosacea cannot be cured, but you can take steps to control
Make sure to take care of your skin using gentle cleansers
and oil-free, water-based skin-care products. Avoid products that contain:
- witch hazel
- exfoliating agents
These ingredients may irritate 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 include:
- avoiding direct sunlight and wearing sunscreen
- avoiding drinking alcohol
- using lasers and light treatment to help with
some severe cases of rosacea
- microdermabrasion treatments to reduce
- taking eye medicines and antibiotics for ocular
Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that you will need to learn to
manage. It can be difficult to cope with a chronic condition. Get support by
finding support groups or online message boards. Connecting with other people
who have rosacea can help you feel less alone.
Outlook for Rosacea
Rosacea cannot be cured, but it can be controlled 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 to develop a treatment plan and avoid your triggers.