Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that can cause the skin to appear red or inflamed. While it is more common around the nose and cheek area, it can also spread to the eyes, ears, back, scalp or chest. The condition can occur in almost anyone, but it is most prevalent in middle-aged women with fair skin and light-colored hair. If rosacea is left untreated, it can worsen over time where symptoms can flare-up over weeks or months. After that time, symptoms can diminish but return again. Rosacea can often be mistaken for other skin conditions such as acne or an allergic reaction. The providers at Dermatology & Skin Cancer Surgery Center work with patients to help manage the symptoms of rosacea so that they can resume a normal, carefree life.

Symptoms of Rosacea

Symptoms of rosacea can vary from mild to severe. The tell-tale sign of rosacea is facial redness. In most patients, the central portion of the face is noticeably red. The small blood vessels of the nose and cheeks can swell and become visible. Other symptoms include red and swollen bumps on the face that look similar to acne. Sometimes the bumps are pus-filled. The skin can also feel hot and tender to the touch. Approximately half of rosacea sufferers have eye problems, such as eye irritation, dryness and reddened, swollen eyelids. In rare cases, a patient’s nose will appear enlarged because rosacea can cause the skin of the nose to thicken, which results in a bulbous appearance. Some common symptoms associated with the varying types of rosacea include:

  • Papulopustular rosacea: Common symptoms include redness and swollen areas on the face that look like acne-like breakouts.
  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: Common symptoms include visible blood vessels along with a red and flushed appearance.
  • Ocular rosacea: Common symptoms include red and irritated eyes and swollen eyelids.
  • Phymatous rosacea: Common symptoms include thickened skin with a bumpy texture.

What causes Rosacea?

While the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, doctors believe that it is caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. People of Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry seem to have a higher incidence of rosacea. Patients usually have other family members that suffer from either rosacea or severe acne. People who are prone to have bad acne have a higher risk of developing rosacea. Scientists also believe that immune system overreactions can cause rosacea where a patient’s immune system overreacts to a certain bacterium. This theory, however, hasn’t been proven to be completely valid.

There are a large number of factors that can aggravate rosacea since they increase the blood flow to the surface of the skin. These can include alcohol, spicy foods, hot foods or beverages, sunlight, extreme temperatures, hot baths or showers, stress, embarrassment or anger, strenuous exercise and certain medications.

Treatment for Rosacea

Though there is no cure for rosacea, there are a number of treatment options available, including antibiotics to help with inflammation. A patient could receive the medication in a pill form or as a cream, lotion or gel. Pills tend to be more effective in the short-term but can cause more side-effects. If antibiotics are not effective, acne drugs, such as isotretinoin, have proven to work for some patients. Laser procedures can be used to reduce the appearance of blood vessels and alleviate redness, improving the appearance of rosacea.