Rosacea is a chronic (long-term) and very common disease that affects the skin and sometimes the eyes. The disorder is characterized by redness, pimples, and, in advanced stages, thickened skin. Skin on other parts of the upper body is only rarely involved. It is sometimes called acne rosacea, as it can look similar to acne. However, it is a different condition to acne.
The disease is more frequently seen in women, but more severe symptoms tend to be seen in men, perhaps because they often delay seeking medical help until the disorder reaches advanced stages. Rosacea is most commonly seen in people with light skin and particularly in those of English, Irish, and Scottish backgrounds.
Causes of Rosacea
The exact cause is not known. A number of factors may be involved. However, none of these factors have definitely been proven to be the cause. It is obvious that something irritates the skin, but Rosacea doesn’t seem to be an infection caused by bacteria. It tends to affect people who have fair skin or blush easily, and it seems to run in families. Factors that cause rosacea to flare up in one person may have no effect on another person. Rosacea is not caused by alcohol abuse, as people thought in the past. But in people who have Rosacea, drinking alcohol may cause symptoms to get worse.
Rosacea often flares when something causes the blood vessels in the face to expand, which causes redness. Things that cause a flare-up are called triggers, and the most commons are exercise, sun and wind exposure, hot weather, stress, spicy foods, alcohol, and hot baths. Swings in temperature from hot to cold or cold to hot can also cause a flare-up of rosacea.
It is important to note that Rosacea cannot be caught from someone else. It is not contagious. There is no evidence that Rosacea can be spread by contact with the skin, sharing towels, or through inhalation.
Rosacea signs and symptoms
Rosacea always includes at least one of the following primary signs. Various secondary signs and symptoms may also develop.
- Flushing: often the earliest sign of Rosacea, this facial redness may come and go.
- Persistent redness: the most common individual sign of rosacea. It resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.
- Bumps and pimples: it may resemble acne, but blackheads are absent
- Small blood vessels in the skin becoming visible
- Eye irritation: the eyes may be irritated and appear watery or bloodshot, and the eyelids also may become red and swollen.
- Burning or stinging: Itching or a feeling of tightness may also develop.
- Dry appearance: the central facial skin may be rough
- Plaques: red patches may develop with no changes in the surrounding skin.
- Swelling: known as edema
- Skin thickening: most commonly on the nose, this condition is called rhinophyma and affects more man than women.
Treatment of Rosacea
While there is no cure for rosacea and the cause is unknown, medical therapy is available to control its signs and symptoms. Usually long term care is necessary although there may be periods when the symptoms improve. Individuals who suspect they may have rosacea are urged to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The most effective treatment options are:
- Prevention– avoiding triggers, for example: avoiding sun exposure, stress, alcohol and caffeine etc.
- Medications– such as antibiotics, which can be applied directly to the affected skin or prescribe as an oral medication. Skin creams that contain medicine, such as azelaic acid or metronidazole, are being used as well. For severe cases oral isotretinoin may be prescribed.
- Laser treatment– redness from tiny blood vessels can be treated with a Pulsed dye or the Nd:YAG lasers. These lasers use a higher energy beam which targets and destroys only the blood vessels causing the blemishes – leaving healthy skin unharmed. Additionally the Regenlite pulsed dye laser when used in the bio-stimulation mode will increase the production of cytokines that relief inflammation and promote wound healing without creating trauma to the skin. Unlike the mechanism of most conventional lasers and IPLs the Regenlite laser causes no damage and there is no downtime associated with the treatment.
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