Rosacea Awareness Month
Posted on April 10 2019
Rosacea is a common skin condition, affecting an estimated 415 million people worldwide. Even in America, though, only 18 percent of people with the condition receive treatment for it. Characterized by flushing, redness, and inflammation on the central face, rosacea is a chronic condition that cannot be cured but can be treated. Many patients with the condition go through flareups and periods of remission, with much of the condition's management focused on preventing future outbreaks.
Causes and Risk Factors
Medical science is not yet sure what causes rosacea, but there are a variety of traits that are shared by many people with the condition. Most people with the disease have one or more of these:
- Between 30 and 50 years of age.
- Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry.
- Fair skin, often with blonde hair and blue eyes.
- Family members with rosacea or a history of severe acne.
- A personal history of severe acne, acne cysts, and/or acne nodules.
Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with rosacea, but men more often have severe outbreaks. Despite all of these risk factors, scientists can only speculate about the causes of rosacea. Possibilities may include:
- Inherited traits.
- Autoimmune reactions.
- Cathelicidin: a protein involved in immune response.
- Demodex: a mite that often lives on the nose and cheeks.
- Persistent Facial Redness: this is the most common sign, and looks like a rash or sunburn that will not go away.
- Skin Thickening: excess tissue can cause the skin to thicken and enlarge, especially on the nose, where it can lead to facial disfigurement and inadequate nasal airflow.
- Flushing: frequent facial flushing or blushing sometimes accompanied by warmth or heat.
- Bumps and Pimples: small, red, solid bumps or pus-filled pimples may occur, absent blackheads, but sometimes with burning or stinging.
- Visible Blood Vessels: telangiectasia, small blood vessels that become prominent on the cheeks, nose bridge, and other parts of the face.
- Facial Swelling: edema, facial swelling or puffiness, as well as raised red patches called plaques.
- Eye Irritation: irritated, watery, or bloodshot eyes, as well as red, swollen eyelids, and styes all being common. Crusts and scales may accumulate around eyelids and eyelashes. Left untreated, vision problems may occur.
- Dryness and Scaliness.
Beyond physical symptoms, rosacea's impact on self-esteem and socialization can be profound:
- Nearly 90 percent of patients reported lowered self-confidence and esteem.
- 41 percent said they avoided public contact or social engagements.
- 88 percent of patients with severe rosacea believed it impacted their professional life, with 51 percent even missing work because of it.
Managing and Treating Rosacea
If you think you have rosacea, a proper diagnosis from a dermatologist is necessary. Other skin conditions, allergic reactions, or diseases have similar symptoms.
Rosacea has no cure, but can be managed, with the goal of reducing or eliminating visible symptoms, easing discomfort, and preventing both worsening and future breakouts.
Triggers: A person with rosacea has very sensitive skin, and is prone to flareups from a variety of causes. These are called triggers, and finding yours is a central component of any rosacea management plan. They can include:
- Wind and cold.
- Some medicines.
- Some hair and skin care products.
- Some makeup.
- Spicy foods.
- Alcohol, especially red wine.
Such common factors can require numerous lifestyle choices to prevent flareups. Consider the following:
Sun Protection: Skin with rosacea can be very sensitive to sunlight. Even if this is not a regular trigger, dermatologists recommend you practice regular sun protection methods, including:
- Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher sunscreen before going outside.
- Avoiding midday sun.
- Staying in shade.
- Wearing sunglasses and sun-protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats.
Prevent Overheating: Increases in body temperature are a common trigger. Make sure you're using fans, air conditioners, or even a wet cloth when you get hot. Don't sit near heat sources like heaters or fireplaces. Take breaks during exercise and drink plenty of cool water. Avoid hot baths or showers.
Safe Skin Care: Ask your dermatologist to recommend mild skin care products that will be gentle on your skin. Be careful when applying products or washing your face, as overly harsh scrubbing can cause a flareup.
Safe Food Choices: You may want to avoid not only spicy foods, but hot foods and beverages that can potentially cause flareups by raising your body heat. Let foods and drinks cool, and consider iced versions of coffee and tea.
Reduce Stress: If stress triggers your rosacea, you may have to discuss ways to reduce it with a doctor. Stress relieving activities like tai chi, yoga, or meditation may help. A rosacea support group may help reduce your stress regarding the condition.