For more than 14+ million Americans, April doesn’t mean showers, it means Rosacea Awareness Month. While the majority of Americans are thinking about spring cleaning and the basketball Final Four, others are hoping to raise awareness of a skin condition that to this day has no cure. Many Americans who have this condition initially pay it no heed, thinking it is temporary and will go away on its own. Sadly, they could not be more wrong.
It’s Not Blushing, It’s Rosacea
Rosacea causes redness on a person’s face and it causes anguish for millions of people with it. Unable to hide it, rosacea most usually affects the skin of the face, causing reddish patches to appear on the nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead, and even the scalp. In time, the redness can grow more intense, leaving a patient’s face resembling a road map, with bluish veins appearing through the redness. Treatment focuses on managing the symptoms of rosacea, sometimes referred to as “adult acne.”
Because symptoms vary from person to person, a physical examination combined with family history is the most common method used to diagnose the condition. Doctors may order tests to rule out other conditions that mimic the symptoms of rosacea like acne, lupus, eczema, and psoriasis. If a person’s symptoms affect the eyes, a dermatologist may refer the patient to an ophthalmologist for further treatment.
Symptoms of Rosacea
The most common symptoms of rosacea are persistent redness across areas of the face, occasionally marked by the appearance of swollen red bumps that resemble acne. It can cause the nose to take on a red, bulbous shape, thickening it and making sufferers resemble the appearance of a heavy alcohol drinker. In nearly half of all cases, people with rosacea experience eye problems like dryness and irritation, including red, swollen eyelids.
The four subtypes of rosacea, each with its own set of symptoms, are:
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea causes redness, flushed skin, and visible blood vessels
- Papulopustular rosacea causes swelling, redness, and acne-like breakouts on the skin
- Phymatous rosacea causes the skin to thicken and creates red textured bumps
- Ocular rosacea affects the eyes, causing the eyelids to swell, and is present in addition to skin symptoms
Causes of Rosacea
While the clinical cause remains unknown, there are definite triggers that cause the onset of symptoms like hot beverages and spicy foods, alcohol, dramatic swings in temperatures, medications that dilate blood vessels (like blood pressure drugs), exercise, and extreme emotions. Each of these may cause your symptoms to appear and worsen. Minimizing exposure to these triggers, along with certain medications is the best way to combat rosacea.
Treatments for Rosacea
Avoiding triggers helps prevent a worsening of symptoms, but the treatment of existing symptoms is done with a combination of topical and oral medications. Topical substances like brimonidine, azelaic acid, and metronidazole are commonly used. Brimonidine can bring positive results in as little as 12 hours in some cases, but keep in mind any results are temporary and will require a person to stay on top of treating their symptoms. Antibiotics are prescribed on occasion. For rosacea that is difficult to treat, medications containing isotretinoin (used to treat cases of severe acne) can bring relief. As a last resort, some dermatologists turn to laser therapy such as pulsed light or electrosurgery to combat severe cases of rosacea.
Rosacea causes suffering for the people with the condition. The road map of redness and veins across your face can be embarrassing and isolating. The good news is rosacea is an entirely manageable condition. Identifying your triggers coupled with treatment overseen by an experienced dermatologist is the safest way to manage the condition. Contact Atlantic Derm in Delray Beach, Florida, by calling (561) 802-SKIN (7546) or request an appointment now so that you can proudly face the world again.