WHAT IS ROSACEA?
Rosacea is a skin problem that affects the nose and face. It causes redness, pimples, and lumps. Blood vessels become more visible. Sometimes the nose gets larger and looks misshapen.
Rosacea can happen at any age. It is most often seen in adults who are fair-skinned between the ages of 30 and 50.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE?
The cause of rosacea is not well understood. It seems to run in families and so may be inherited. It may be caused by overactive blood vessels in the skin. Contrary to popular belief, rosacea is not caused by alcoholism. However, some people with rosacea find that drinking alcohol can make their rosacea worse.
Rosacea is not related to the pimples and cysts of acne. But people who have rosacea may also have acne. Acne and rosacea are often treated with the same medicines.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The most common symptoms are:
· Red bumps on your face
· Red face with pimples
· A red nose
· Visible blood vessel patterns on the nose
In women, redness and blood vessels may appear only on the cheeks and chin.
Over time the surface of the nose may become lumpy and look swollen. The nose can become quite enlarged, and its surface may thicken with scar tissue.
Sometimes rosacea causes red and swollen eyelids. Rarely, the surface of the eyes may be affected, causing a sense of burning and grittiness.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your skin symptoms and how long you have had them.
Your family history for skin problems can also be helpful. Your provider will examine your skin, which is usually all that is needed to make the diagnosis. In rare cases a skin biopsy (removal of a small sample of skin) may be done to confirm the diagnosis.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
Treatment of rosacea is very important because if it is not treated, it usually gets worse over time and can permanently damage facial tissues.
Rosacea is usually treated first with antibiotics. Some of these medicines are taken by mouth. Others are put on the skin.
If rosacea is affecting your eyes, your provider may prescribe antibiotic medicine for your eyes. You may be referred to an eye doctor.
For more severe cases of rosacea, an oral medicine called isotretinoin (Accutane, Clarus) may be prescribed. Women must use this medicine very carefully. Isotretinoin causes birth defects if a woman takes it 1 to 2 months before she gets pregnant or during pregnancy.
A medicine called Finacea (azelaic acid) may be prescribed for rosacea. It is a gel medicine for acne that can be put on your skin.
Steroid creams put on the face can sometimes help. These creams should be used only under the supervision of a healthcare provider even if they are nonprescription. Sometimes the use of steroids for an extended period of time can cause skin damage, especially when they are used incorrectly on the face. Using a steroid for a long time can have serious side effects. Use steroid medicine exactly as your healthcare provider prescribes. Don’t use more or less of it than prescribed by your provider and don’t use it longer than prescribed. Don’t stop using a steroid without your provider’s approval. You may have to lower your dosage slowly before stopping it.
If the usual medicines do not help the problem, and especially if your nose is becoming enlarged or deformed, you may need to see a dermatologist. Dermatologists are skin specialists who can suggest other possible treatments, including various types of surgery. In some cases they may do laser surgery. Lasers can often help get rid of enlarged blood vessels on the skin and the enlarged tissues of the nose. The sooner you see a dermatologist, the more effective their treatment is likely to be.
HOW LONG WILL THE EFFECTS LAST?
It is rare for rosacea to go away on its own and the condition usually worsens over time.
Rosacea can be successfully treated if it is diagnosed in its early stages.
HOW CAN I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF?
· Follow the treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. Use the medicines as prescribed.
· Avoid rubbing or massaging your face if it seems to irritate the inflamed skin.
· Overexposure to sunlight can worsen the effects of rosacea. Limit your exposure to sunlight.
When you are out in the sun, use sunscreen.
· Avoid alcohol if it seems to make your rosacea worse.
· Both men and women with rosacea often use makeup to cover the skin changes. Make sure you avoid using irritating cosmetics.
· Avoid getting hairspray, mousse, and other irritating cosmetics on your face.
· For more information, contact:
HOW DO I PREVENT ROSACEA?
Because the cause of rosacea is not well understood, prevention of this problem is also not well understood. If it is inherited, it may not be easy to prevent. However, if you have just started having rosacea, or you have a family history of rosacea, it may help to avoid any foods, drinks, or other irritants (such as sunburn) that cause facial flushing. Frequent facial flushing may cause rosacea to appear for the first time or to get worse.