Rosacea – A Guide to Symptoms and Treatments

The inflammatory skin disease known as rosacea currently affects an estimated 14 million Americans and is often mistakenly called acne or adult acne. However, the condition really has little to do with the pimples and blemishes that we associate with the teenage years. Rosacea is also commonly confused with other skin conditions, such as eczema and skin allergies, and the misconception still exists that it can be caused by drinking alcohol. Although alcohol can cause the skin to flush and exacerbate the condition, it doesn’t actually cause it.

The exact true causes of rosacea are largely unknown, although scientists have several theories regarding the chronic skin condition and its possible origin. Emotional factors such as embarrassment, stress, anxiety, or fear can trigger flare-ups in some people who are prone to blushing. Most people who are affected by rosacea are fair-skinned and are between the ages of 30 and 60. While the condition is non life-threatening, it can still cause pain, irritation and adversely affect one’s self-esteem.

In most people, rosacea is a cyclical condition, which means that there may be periods of flare-ups that last for weeks or months before disappearing, only to return again. The condition is also progressive, meaning that it will only worsen if left untreated. The symptoms of rosacea can vary from mild redness and irritation to severe outbreaks and inflammation, and will usually appear in phases.

Pre-rosacea may start out as merely a tendency to blush more than usual and then progressively devolop into persistent redness in the middle of the face and especially on the nose. The second phase known as vascular rosacea occurs as the symptoms begin to worsen when the small blood vessels in the face swell. This causes them to get closer to the surface of the skin making them more noticeable. People afflicted with rosacea often have oily skin and may also have dandruff.

Inflammatory rosacea is the most severe of the phases and can include painful pustules that appear on the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose. In rare instances the condition can also cause the oil glands in the nose and cheeks to enlarge over time. Once rosacea has been accurately diagnosed, the condition is actually quite treatable. Although it isn’t possible to eliminate the condition entirely, there are several effective treatment options available that offer relief from the signs and symptoms.

Some people may require a prescription for a topical antibiotic, which is used for its anti-inflammatory properties, while others may need an oral antibiotic to treat rosacea. Creams, lotions, and certain moisturizers designed to treat rosacea can also be used in conjunction with topical or oral antibiotics if necessary. Moisturizers should be applied after the topical medication has penetrated the skin. Creams including vitamin K are also used to strengthen the blood vessels including the small capillaries in the face.

Individuals with rosacea should be careful when using make-up and certain skin care products. Be sure to check labels and only use products that are listed as noncomedogenic, as these won’t clog the pores of the skin quite as much. Certain shaving lotions and gels may irritate sensitive skin, further aggravating the condition, and any products containing alcohol should be avoided. Instead, look for lotions and creams that contain anti-inflammatory as well as anti-bacterial ingredients.

Categories : Rosacea

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