Rosacea is a skin condition that causes a persistent redness on the face, in particular on the cheeks, nose and forehead. Rosacea manifests itself initially as a facial blushing that does not seem to disappear completely. The initial redness may come and go, but over time develops into a more persistent redness that resembles inflammation (like a sun burn). In addition, the face often will feel itchy and painful.
The condition is estimated to affect 45 million people worldwide and affects mostly fair-skinned people between the ages of 20 and 50. Rosacea symptoms will become progressively worse over time if the condition is not treated.
Small blood vessels in areas on the face that normally blush become dilated and inflamed and become visible through the skin as small red lines (telangiectasias). These dilated blood vessels tend to become larger in size over time. Rosacea is often also accompanied by papules (red bumps) and pustules (pus filled/oozing bumps), which resemble ordinary pimples. However, unlike teenage acne, there are no whiteheads or blackheads in rosacea.
The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, however much debate exists about many contributing factors. Since rosacea mainly affects the areas in the face that blush, emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, embarrassment etc., food items (alcohol, coffee, foods high in histamine, spicy foods) and weather (heat or cold) all aggravate rosacea symptoms. Sun exposure definitely worsens acne rosacea.
A skin mite (Demodex folliculorum) that infests hair follicles has been thought to be a contributing factor for rosacea and studies have found some rosacea patients with a high number of demodex mites. A bacterium (Helicobacter pylori) found in the digestive system of some people that can cause acid reflux disease, has also been investigated as a possible cause.
Rosacea is usually treated with topical treatments (e.g. antibiotic creams or gels) and an initial oral tetracycline regimen may be needed to get the condition under control. Although prescription antibiotic treatments may work for most people, these treatments could become less effective over time and rosacea flare-ups become more frequent.
In addition to topical treatments, there are a few things people can do to decrease their rosacea symptoms. For example, increasing one's water intake by drinking at least 8 glasses of water will help the body to eliminate waste products and to remain cool. Identifying and eliminating so-called "trigger" foods can also help. Trigger foods vary from person to person, so eliminating certain foods from your diet for a period of time will help to identify those trigger foods. Those foods could be chocolate, red peppers, tomatoes or any food that is high in histamine, alcoholic beverages and drinks containing caffeine. By reducing exposure to stressful situations (at work, at home or commuting) people can further reduce the symptoms of rosacea.
Avoid using skin care products that can aggravate rosacea symptoms. Steroids worsen rosacea symptoms and should be avoided at all costs. If you are using steroids on your face and you have been diagnosed with rosacea, it is very important that you stop using steroids gradually. Topical treatments for regular acne such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid as well as topical treatments containing alpha- or beta- hydroxy acids should also be avoided.
While it is important to protect our face from the damaging rays of the sun with a sunscreen, many rosacea patients are sensitive to the UV blocking chemicals in most sun screens. In addition, many sun screens are waterproof and are thick and oily, which cause a heat to build up. The inability of your face to regulate heat when a sunscreen is applied, can result in additional redness. It is therefore important to minimize your exposure to the sun and if you're outdoors for prolonged period to use a sunscreen that does not cause sensitivity (look for non-waterproof sun screens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide). Also, sun screens containing alcohol should be avoided.
Rosacea can affect the eyes: Ocular Rosacea usually accompanies rosacea and often manifests itself as red, burning and itching eyes. Ocular rosacea can develop slower than the other rosacea symptoms and people may not notice any symptoms in their eyes. Rosacea patients should have their eyes checked regularly by an eye doctor, especially people wearing contact lenses.
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Common misspellings of rosacea: roscea, rosace, roacea, rosaca, rosacae.
Disclaimer: The information provided above is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended to replace the advice from your health care professional. Always talk to your health care professional.