Everything You Need to Know About Rosacea
Rosacea is a long-term, chronic skin condition that mainly affects the face in adult men and women age 30 to 50. Rosacea is a chronic condition that does not go away but can be controlled and managed medically.
It affects more women (especially those who are menopausal) than men and is more common in those with fair skin mostly of eastern European descent (typically Celtic, English, and Scottish) but can develop in people of any skin type.
It’s mostly characterized by pimples, visible blood vessels, redness, watery or irritated eyes, and in very advanced stages, thickened skin.
It shows itself initially with the appearance of redness or blushing that may come and go at first but becomes more persistent and visible over time.
Half of people who suffer from rosacea experience eye symptoms like blood-shot eyes. Intensity can also vary.
- Burning, stinging, or itching
- Dry skin
- Frequent redness of the face, flushing, or blushing on the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead
- Persistent redness
- Pimple-like bumps without blackheads or whiteheads
- Red lines (due to enlarged blood vessels becoming visible)
While there is no definitive cause for rosacea, general belief is that it’s a result of genetic and environmental factors.
- Bacterium: associated with gastrointestinal ulcers
- Being fair-skinned (of English, Irish, Scottish, Eastern or Northern European descent)
- Chronic sun exposure
- Develops in the immune system
- Family history of rosacea
- Skin mite (Demodex folliculorum): blocking oil glands causing inflammation
Erythematotelangiectatic: Symptoms include facial flushing and redness. There may be swelling, burning and stinging, roughness, and visible red blood vessels.
Papulopustular: A more advanced form of rosacea that is marked by persistent redness and pimplelike bumps (often mistaken for acne), as well as burning and stinging.
Phymatous: In some, rosacea may affect the nose causing the skin tissue to thicken (giving an enlarged appearance) and become bumpy. This advanced form of rosacea is called rhinophyma.
In addition to skin symptoms, rosacea may also affect the eyes and eyelids. It may cause redness to the surrounding skin tissue but also burning or stinging, dryness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and watery, bloodshot eyes.
Certain lifestyle factors can cause flare ups. Managing triggers and other risk factors are key to successfully living with rosacea.
- Cosmetics: products with fragrances, alcohols, abrasives, or other irritants can aggravate symptoms
- Diet: spicy or hot foods, caffeine, and alchohol
- Exercise: over-heating the body through workouts can trigger flushing
- Medication: certain ingredients can worsen symptoms
- Sun exposure: UV exposure tends to make rosacea worse
- Stress: emotional swings cause flare ups
- Temperature: extremes in weather conditions and environments that raise your body temperature
Despite being commonly mistaken for it, rosacea is not a form of acne. Do not use acne creams to to treat it as they might further dry out and irritate your skin.
Consuming excess alcohol does not cause rosacea. However, it is known to trigger it and can worsen symptoms.
High Blood Pressure
It does not cause facial flushing, but high blood pressure medication can increase redness in those who suffer from rosacea.
Not washing enough does not cause rosacea. Over-cleansing can actually make symptoms worse as rosacea skin tends to be dry and sensitive.
People often mistake the redness for badly sunburned skin.
Rosacea untreated over time can get worse. It does not improve or resolve on its own. Gentle treatment is key to caring for rosacea and making sure it doesn’t worsen.
- Do not rub or scrub the skin
- Moisturize regularly, especially during colder weather
- Use mild cleansers
- Use non-drying, alcohol or astringent free products
- Use sunscreen every day
- Antibiotics (topical, oral): applied directly to the skin or through pills to provide anti-inflammatory effects
- Metronidazole: anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects have proven effective for gentle, long-term treatment
- Isotretinoin: oral agent prescribed to treat severe symptoms if antibiotics prove ineffective
- Laser therapy cosmetic surgery: cosmetic treatment used to treat visible red blood vessels and tissue overgrowth
- Sodium sulfacetamide and sulphur: combination treatment for redness and inflammation
- Steroid creams: short-term treatment used to reduce skin redness and inflammation
- Tretinoin cream: topical agent prescribed to treat mild rosacea
While rosacea is a serious, chronic issue without definitive causes or cures, it’s treatable and manageable. It’s mostly known for its visible appearance leading to low self-esteem. As a persistent, long-term condition, its physical symptoms can be made worse by common misconceptions.
Daily Skin Care
Like all skin conditions, regular, daily treatment can help alleviate or control the worst symptoms and physical effects.
Gentle cleansers will remove soil and impurities on the surface of the skin. Cleansing acting is essential for the treatment of rosacea by working deep into the pores, removing bacteria and dead skin cells from the skin.
Conditioners can then nourish the skin while accelerating the growth of new skin cells. Using lotion can also protect against bacterial infections and make sure your skin is free of red blemishes.
It’s important to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment if you believe you may have rosacea. It affects at least 16 million people in the United States, 2 million in Canada, and 45 million worldwide.
Source: Canadian Dermatology Association