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Do you blush or flush easily? When you look in the mirror, do you see redness in the center of your face? Do you also see acne-like breakouts even though your teen years ended decades ago? Where you have redness, do you see tiny veins?
If so, you might have rosacea. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Redness across the nose and cheeks, which can spread to the chin, forehead, or ears
- Acne-like breakouts
- Skin that feels sore and is easily irritated
- Thin, reddish-purple veins
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dry, itchy, and irritated eyes
- Gritty feeling in your eyes
For some people, rosacea becomes more noticeable with time. The redness can become permanent. The skin may feel hot and tender. Your skin can become so sensitive that getting water on your face causes burning and stinging.
Some people see the affected skin grow thick – this is more common among men than women. It is caused by enlarging oil glands in the skin. When this happens to the nose, the medical term for this condition is “rhinophyma.” The nose enlarges, and thick bumps can form on it.
WHO GETS ROSACEA?
Rosacea is a common skin condition. In the United States, millions of people have rosacea. You have a greater likelihood of developing rosacea if you are:
- Between 30 and 50 years of ag
- Fair-skinned, and have blonde hair and blue eyes
- Of Northern European ancestry
- A woman going through menopause
However, people of all races and ages get rosacea. Rosacea may also occur in people who have darker skin, hair and eyes.
While rosacea is more common in women, it can affect men more severely.
Recent research suggests that rosacea tends to run in families. If you have blood relatives with rosacea or severe acne, you have a greater risk of getting rosacea.
A personal history of severe acne also increases your risk of getting rosacea.
HOW DOES A DERMATOLOGIST TREAT ROSACEA?
If you have redness on your face along with acne or small veins, you should see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can tell you whether you have rosacea and offer a treatment plan.
Although there is no cure for rosacea, when treatment begins at the first sign of rosacea, treatment often controls the disease. You may find relief from or not see or feel the symptoms of rosacea, such as burning, itching, redness or acne-like breakouts.
Many people who treat their rosacea say that treatment improves their quality of life. They say they feel less self- conscious. Another benefit of treatment is that it can prevent rosacea from getting worse. Rosacea can be more difficult to treat if it gets worse.
Research shows that the most effective results come from combining treatments and tailoring treatment to a patient’s signs and symptoms. Your dermatologist may create a treatment plan that includes more than one treatment.
If your rosacea includes acne-like breakouts, these can often be treated with medicine applied to the skin. It takes time to see improvement. You may see a slight improvement in three or four weeks. It usually takes about two months to see a noticeable improvement. To keep your skin clear, you may need to continue to use this medicine.
Sometimes you need an oral antibiotic to clear the acne-like breakouts. Your dermatologist may recommend a newer medicine that treats the inflammation without the side effects of higher dose antibiotics. This medicine can clear the skin and avoids concerns about taking an antibiotic for too long.
Laser surgery can help reduce the redness. Your dermatologist may recommend a medicine to apply to your skin that can help reduce redness.
Laser surgery or a procedure called electrodessication, which uses small electric needles, can help diminish the small veins.
To treat thickening skin, a dermatologist may remove the excess skin with a scalpel, laser, or electrosurgery.
For your eyes
When rosacea affects your eyes, it is called ocular rosacea. You may notice your eyes are watery or bloodshot, and feel gritty, like you have sand in your eyes. Your eyes may also burn, sting or itch. Your vision may be blurry and your eyes may be sensitive to light.
Treatment for this type of rosacea is essential. Without treatment, the rosacea in your eyes may worsen. In rare cases, it can cause problems with your eyesight. You may need to see an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specialist in treating eye diseases).
AVOID TRIGGERS, PREVENT FLARE-UPS
To get the best results from your treatment, dermatologists recommend that you learn what triggers your rosacea. Common triggers include spicy foods, hot temperature drinks, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages.
Finding out what triggers your rosacea takes a bit of detective work, but it is not hard. At the end of each day, jot down your exposure to common rosacea triggers. If your rosacea flares, be sure to note that, too.
Once you know your triggers, it is best to avoid them if you can.
WHAT ARE SOME DERMATOLOGIST-RECOMMENDED TIPS TO HELP MANAGE ROSACEA?
Here are tips to help you avoid some common rosacea triggers:
- Protect your skin. Seek shade when possible, limit exposure to sunlight, and wear sun-protective clothing. Apply a broad-spectrum (offers protection from UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher to your face every day before you go outside. Look for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these ingredients are the least irritating to skin with rosacea. When you will be outside, be sure to reapply the sunscreen every two hours.
- Avoid anything that causes your rosacea to
- Don’t overheat or expose your skin to very cold temperatures. Overheating may cause your rosacea to flare. Exercising in a cool environment can help. You can protect your face from cold and wind with a scarf or ski mask that does not irritate your
- Keep your skin care routine simple. Fewer products are better. Avoid cosmetics and skin care products that contain alcohol. Avoid rubbing, scrubbing, or massaging your
- If you use hair spray, shield your face so that the spray does not get on your
TALK WITH YOUR DERMATOLOGIST
Dermatologists can effectively treat rosacea. There are no quick fixes though. Treatment takes time to work. It also takes time to figure out what triggers your rosacea and sometimes a bit of creativity to avoid your triggers.
Many people say treatment is worthwhile because it improves their quality of life. Talking with a dermatologist can help you make an informed decision about what will be best for you.
A board-certified dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating the medical, surgical, and cosmetic conditions of the skin, hair and nails. To learn more about rosacea or find a dermatologist in your area, visit aad.org, or call toll free (888) 462-DERM (3376).
Photographs previously published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2004 June; 50(6): 907-12. Wilkin J, Dahl M, Michael Detmar, L et al. “Standard grading system for rosacea: report of the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee on the classification and staging of rosacea.” Copyright Elsevier (2004).
All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology.
Copyright © by the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides
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