What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects all skin colors and skin types, but is more common in those with fair skin.  It usually occurs in adults age 30 and older and is more common in women than men.  Most people with rosacea experience redness, and many experience chronic and recurring flushing, thickening of the skin with a bumpy texture or acne like breakouts.  Some people will also experience ocular rosacea in which the eyes are affected and a referral to the ophthalmologist may be necessary.

Causes

Researchers are still trying to find out the exact cause of rosacea.  However, it is widely believed by dermatologists to be an inflammatory and vascular condition.   Some researchers have linked rosacea to environmental and hereditary factors.  Still other researchers feel the immune system may play a role in a person’s having rosacea.

Symptoms

Rosacea symptoms vary from person to person, and can often be mistaken for acne, eczema, or an allergy. Some common symptoms are:

  • Bumps or blemishes (papules or pustules)
  • Facial redness/flushing easily
  • Burning or stinging (sensitive skin)
  • Dry, tight, or itchy facial skin that may swell or thicken
  • Visible red veins (broken blood vessels)
  • Burning, itching, watery eyes or swollen eyelids

Triggers

A variety of environmental factors have been discovered that can trigger a rosacea flare up.  What causes one person’s rosacea to flare may not trigger a flare up in another person. It is important to identify your personal rosacea trigger(s).
Common triggers include:

  • Food- common foods include chocolate, spicy foods, soy sauce, citrus fruits, caffeine
  • Beverages- alcohol-especially red wine, beer, bourbon, gin, vodka, champagne; hot drinks
  • Emotional influences- stress, anxiety
  • Skin care products- cosmetics and hair sprays containing alcohol, any substance that causes redness and stinging
  • Weather- sun, strong winds, cold, humidity
  • Temperature- saunas, warm environments, hot baths
  • Medications- vasodilators, topical steroids
  • Physical exertion- exercise, lift and load jobs
  • Medical conditions- frequent flushing, menopause, chronic cough, caffeine withdrawal

Treatment

Unfortunately there is no cure for rosacea.  There are, however, many treatments available today that can prevent rosacea from getting worse and manage your symptoms.  Topical and/or oral medications along with a gentle skin care routine and lifestyle modifications can help to manage the symptoms of rosacea and make them manageable.  Because symptoms may vary from one patient to another, treatment must be tailored for each individual.  More helpful information can be found at www.rosacea.org.

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