What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic (long-term) skin disease that causes redness and swelling, primarily on the face. Other areas that can be affected are the scalp, neck, ears, eyes, chest, and back. Usually developing over a long period, rosacea often begins as a tendency to flush and blush easily, then progresses to persistent redness of the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose or sensitivity to cosmetics. It can produce small, red papules (bumps) or pus-filled papules (pustules). Since rosacea causes facial swelling and redness, it is easily confused with other skin conditions, such as acne and sunburn. For this reason, rosacea is known as the “great pretender” and often incorrectly referred to as “adult acne.”

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Who Gets Rosacea?

Rosacea affects an estimated 14 million Americans, and adults, especially those between 30 and 50 years old with blonde hair, lighter skin, and blue eyes, are most likely to suffer from the condition. However, rosacea can affect children as well as people of any skin type. Rosacea is often passed on in families, with women being afflicted more often than their male counterparts. Men, however, often get more severe forms of rosacea. For women with rosacea, increased flushing and blushing may occur around and during menopause. Famous rosacea sufferers include W.C. Fields and former President Bill Clinton, both often captured on film with the classic mid-face redness and bumpiness of rosacea. According to a Gallup survey, these classic signs of rosacea are often misidentified, as 78% of Americans do not know that rosacea exists.

Psychological Effects

Some believe rosacea's social and emotional effects are worse than the physical symptoms. In one survey, nearly 70% of rosacea patients said it lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem. Forty-one percent said the condition caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements.

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Causes of Rosacea

While the precise cause of rosacea remains a mystery, researchers believe that heredity and environmental factors are to blame. The immune system has been implicated as playing a role in rosacea’s development. One explanation is that something causes the blood vessels to swell, resulting in the flushing and redness characteristic of rosacea. 

Another theory is that a mite called demodex folliculorum – which lives in hair follicles – could cause rosacea. The thought is that the mites clog oil glands, leading to the inflammatory symptoms of rosacea. Others believe that a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori – which causes intestinal infection – might be a cause.

Early Treatment Is Key

The best advice for anyone who thinks they might have rosacea is to see a dermatologist as early as possible. Experts believe early diagnosis and treatment not only control the signs and symptoms of rosacea but might actually reverse progression. Early treatment can prevent blood vessels from enlarging and rhinophyma (an enlarged and bulbous nose) from developing.

When left untreated, rosacea often becomes worse and more challenging to treat – especially if it progresses to telangiectasia (red or purple spider-like veins) and rhinophyma. However, people with these more advanced signs of the disease should not give up hope. They, too, can be treated and their symptoms alleviated.

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Rosacea Treatment Options

Dermatologists, while unable to cure rosacea, have a variety of treatments that diminish the disease’s signs and symptoms. According to a study of 1,077 rosacea patients, 87% said their rosacea was under control with treatment. 

Today’s treatments range from topical products and oral medications to treat the papules and pustules to laser or light therapy for treating visible blood vessels on the face. Laser surgery may be indicated for those with rhinophyma. 

Dermatologists often use a combination of treatments depending on the individual patient’s needs. Not all treatments work for everyone, and sometimes doctors may need to prescribe both an oral antibiotic and a topical product. 

Experience Long-Term Relief From Rosacea

Our medical providers at Skin Care Doctors can help you achieve long-term relief from rosacea symptoms with various treatments, from topical or oral medications to laser or light therapy. Whether you have been struggling with the condition for a long time or just noticed the symptoms, our providers are trained in the latest medical advancements to treat mild to severe rosacea effectively. Contact our office today to learn more about your options.

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Better skin health starts here. Schedule your appointment today.

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