Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that results in redness and swelling, particularly on the face, due to inflammation of the blood vessels.
Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from rosacea, although men tend to have more severe forms of rosacea. It most commonly affects fair-skinned people with blond hair and blue eyes, although anyone can get rosacea.
Although rosacea affects 14 million people in the United States, most Americans know very little about this disease.
Rosacea often begins with the tendency to blush or flush easily; it is often confused with acne or sunburn because it causes redness and swelling.
Symptoms of rosacea vary from person to person and include:
- redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead
- small visible blood vessels on the face
- bumps or blemishes on the face (blemishes usually appear as small, red bumps)
- irritated, watery eyes (rosacea affects the eyes in 50% of people with the disease)
People with rosacea often also have acne and, to a lesser extent, non-melanoma skin cancer. However, there is no known link between rosacea and cancer. There is also no known link between rosacea and eczema (which leads to dry, itchy skin and, in more severe cases, raw skin and bleeding).
Because rosacea symptoms vary, it's advisable to keep a journal where you can list foods, products, activities or medicines that trigger your rosacea flare-ups.
Although the precise cause of rosacea is unknown, experts believe that it is caused by heredity and environmental factors.
Another theory holds that a certain mite that lives in hair follicles causes the oil glands to clog, leading to inflammation. Bacterium that leads to intestinal infection has also been identified as a possible cause of this skin condition.
A malfunctioning immune system has also been cited as a factor in the development of rosacea.
If you think you might have rosacea, you should see your doctor or dermatologist right away; the longer you leave your rosacea untreated, the worse your condition will likely become.
While there is cure for rosacea, there are a variety of rosacea treatments that can bring you rosacea relief.
Topical treatments for rosacea include:
- benzoyl peroxide - an antibacterial product which has a mild drying effect
- sulfur lotions - promote drying and peeling, thereby removing excess oil and dirt
- Azelaic acid - helps the skin to shed more quickly, therefore reducing appearance of blemishes
Topical rosacea treatments generally take about two months to start producing results. Rosacea creams can help redness and scarring, as well as help to promote new skin cell growth.
Oral treatments tend to work more quickly in the treatment of rosacea. Oral rosacea treatments include Tetracycline and Doxycycline; oral rosacea treatments are generally used for more severe cases of rosacea.
Alternative rosacea treatments can also be effective in bringing rosacea relief. Emu oil can minimize skin irritations and herbs such as lavender, ginger and neem have also proven effective.
For those with severe cases of rosacea, laser therapy is a new treatment that helps to reduce the appearance of blood vessels.
Coping with Rosacea: Rosacea Care
If you have rosacea, be aware of specific tripwires, that is, certain factors that cause rosacea flare-ups.
The most common factors that aggravate rosacea are:
- Sun exposure: Make sure you apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher year round in order to minimize the negative impact of the sun on your rosacea.
- Hot weather: Stay indoors in a cool, air-conditioned environment as much as possible on hot days.
- Emotional stress: Reducing stress is key to beating rosacea flare-ups. Try deep breathing and visualization when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Reduce your intake of caffeine and make sure you get 8 hours of sleep every night. Simple stretches can help you reduce muscle tension.
- Spicy or hot foods: Avoid black and white pepper, paprika, red peppers and cayenne. Also, stay away from overheated beverages, like hot coffee.
- Exercise: Exercise more frequently, but for shorter intervals. Stay as cool as possible during your workout by applying water, or a cool towel, to your face and neck to avoid overheating.
Rosacea Skin Care
Rosacea skin care is also important. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing your face. Apply skin care products gently, avoid products, such as cosmetics and moisturizers that contain alcohol and fragrance.
Skin care products for rosacea should be mild; avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers that will exacerbate skin irritation. Avoid getting hairspray on your face.
Don't take hot showers or baths, or use hot water to wash your face, as this will only aggravate redness and inflammation. Always use lukewarm water instead.