This skin condition isn’t dangerous, but it sure can be annoying. Who gets rosacea? And why? Let’s explore these questions and more about rosacea.
WHAT IS ROSACEA?
Medically termed ‘acne rosacea,’ rosacea isn’t the same condition we commonly call ‘acne.’ (That form of acne is termed ‘acne vulgaris’ and causes pimples that originate in hair follicles.)
A long-term skin condition, rosacea can cause redness, flushing and other skin symptoms that occur on the face. Rosacea somehow causes the blood vessels of the face to become enlarged. These enlarged vessels may become more visible in a general sense (overall reddening of the skin), or the vessels themselves may be visible. We often call these small, visible blood vessels ‘spider veins.’
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS
Researchers don’t know what causes rosacea, but they do know certain people are more prone to developing it. Risk factors for rosacea include:
- Fair skin
- Age 30 to 50
Men also get rosacea, and their symptoms often are much worse than a woman’s symptoms.
The enlarged facial blood vessels caused by rosacea will give you a constantly red-faced look, and the condition also can manifest with these additional symptoms:
- Facial blushing or flushing
- An enlarged, reddish nose
- An abundance of visible spider veins (‘telangiectasia’) on the face
- Sores or pimples that may crust or ooze
- Thickened skin on the nose and forehead
- Frequent burning or stinging feeling in the eyes
- Frequently irritated, watery or bloodshot eyes
Rosacea seems to occur more frequently in conjunction with other skin disorders, such as acne vulgaris and seborrhea. It may also be associated with the eye conditions blepharitis and keratitis. If you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, you may be more prone to developing rosacea.
Rosacea can’t be cured, but several treatments may reduce the severity of symptoms. The main treatment for rosacea focuses on preventing triggers that make symptoms worse. In general, you can take several steps on your own to reduce flare-ups of rosacea:
- Track your symptoms. Jot down dates and circumstances when your rosacea flares up so you can identify your personal triggers in the future.
- Avoid sun exposure, and use sunscreen when you do go into the sun.
- Don’t exercise in hot weather. Generally avoid too much activity in the heat.
- Spicy foods, alcohol and hot beverages may make symptoms worse, so try to avoid these triggers.
- Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed if your healthcare provider gives them to you for rosacea.
- Ask your healthcare provider about skin creams (such as retinol) that have been shown to reduce general facial redness.
- As a last resort, consider laser skin resurfacing.
It’s worth noting over-the-counter acne cleansers and medications will not help rosacea symptoms.
DON’T BE EMBARRASSED
Many people feel embarrassed by the red face caused by rosacea. However, try not to stress about this common skin condition. Stress can cause a flare-up, so getting comfortable with your rosacea and engaging in stress-reduction techniques can actually improve your appearance. If you find you experience frequent outbreaks of pimples, see a dermatologist or other medical professional to explore options for treating your rosacea more aggressively.
Image Credit : M. Sand, D. Sand, C. Thrandorf, V. Paech, P. Altmeyer, F. G. Bechara