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All About Rosacea

by Suzann Cook RN, BSN, WRMT 

Rosacea is a disease of the facial skin that is focused on the center of the face. This relatively unknown disease affects thirteen million Americans. Rosacea's redness and/or bumps commonly start on the nose and spread outward to the cheeks, chin, and forehead. The redness that occurs is caused by expanded blood vessels below the skin's surface. The symptoms of Rosacea are often mistaken for that of adult acne, flushing and even sunburn. Therefore that is how it is treated, but it never seems to improve or go away. Diagnosing and treating Rosacea early can have dramatic results. Only a health care professional can diagnose Rosacea. It is a chronic illness, which means you never really get rid of it, but you can control its spread and limit the long-term effect it has on your skin and on your appearance.

  • Redness that looks like a blush
  • Pimples without blackheads
  • Pustules or pimples solidly filled with pus
  • Unlike acne Rosacea can be present only on the face
  • Thin red lines just beneath the skin's surface called telangiectasia, only visible when the redness goes away
  • Bumps on the nose that make the already red nose appear swollen and bumpy
Living with Rosacea

Rosacea is usually found in adults above the age of 30 and up to 70. The fair-skinned, northern European type complexion is susceptible, as are people who blush more easily. Women are more likely than men to get Rosacea, but men with Rosacea get more severe symptoms. At the very beginning of the disease, patches of redness appear usually in the center of the face or on the cheek, followed by pimples and visible blood vessel and then the bumps on the nose appear. If severe enough Rosacea can affect eyes, mucous membranes and connective tissue beneath the skin. The progress of the disease can be interrupted by periods of remission. During this remission the symptoms calm down and seem to go away. Cycles of flare-ups and remissions are common in Rosacea, they are often followed by periods that are worse in activity. You will notice even more redness, perhaps more pimples, and more red bumps on the nose, if the disease is left untreated.

Triggers to Avoid
  • Avoid exposure to the sun and winds
  • Avoid spicy foods, dairy products, and alcohol
  • Avoid tobacco products as smoke damages blood vessels which makes symptoms worse
  • Avoid scrubbing which may irritate. Don't use exfoliates, or astringents.
  • Use only water-based make-ups and sunscreens
  • Avoid stressful situations: anger, embarrassment, and fright may all result in flushing and trigger Rosacea symptoms
  • Moderate rather than hard exercise may be preferable

Rosacea responds well to early treatment. Pimples can be controlled with medications. Some of the redness may also go away when the number of pimples is reduced. Medications won't improve the tiny, broken blood vessels, or knobby nose bumps. Treatments can be topical or oral. Topical therapies may be prescribed. A topical medicine commonly prescribed is metronidazole cream. Topical steroids are sometimes used on a short term basis to help control the redness associated with steroids. Long term use of steroids may actually worsen the problem. Oral therapies, such as tetracycline, may be prescribed. Over-the-counter medications are not effective and can irritate your skin or worsen the Rosacea. The symptoms of Rosacea often mimic acne and sunburn. For that reason Rosacea is often left untreated in the early stages. One of the keys to treating Rosacea is early detection and early treatment. Early and effective treatment can stop the progress of the disease.

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