Rosacea is a common skin condition, which results in redness and visible blood vessels on the face; additionally, there can be small, reddish pus-filled bumps. Rosacea is more common on the skin of the nose, cheeks, and forehead. However, it can sometimes affect the eyes and is known as ocular rosacea. Rosacea is an embarrassing condition, and the affected person can be psychologically disturbed due to changes in the physical appearance.
Rosacea begins with episodes of flushing, which leads to the redness of the skin. As the condition progresses, the flushing becomes permanent, and the following symptoms are noticed:
- Permanent redness of the skin
- Small blood vessels of the skin becoming noticeable
- Burning or stinging sensation of the skin
- Appearance of spots known as papules and pustules
- Thickening of the skin on the nose
These symptoms may flare up for a few weeks to months and subside for some days; this continues as a cycle until a proper treatment is provided. Consult a skin specialist if there is a persistent redness on the face.
The symptoms of ocular rosacea include:
- Dry eyes
- Inflammation of the eyelids
- Feeling the presence of something in the eyes
- Irritation and bloodshot eyes
The cause of rosacea is not completely known yet. It is believed to occur as a response to the microscopic mites on the face or due to abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face.
Flushing can aggravate rosacea by causing permanent enlargement of the small blood vessels in the face. Repeated episodes of flushing can promote inflammation leading to the formation of papules or red bumps resembling acne.
The factors that act as triggers for rosacea are:
- Exposure to sunlight
- Hot or cold weather
- Consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Intake of hot drinks
- Certain foods, especially spicy foods
- Strenuous physical exercise
Rosacea is more common in the following population:
- Middle-aged people (between 30 to 50 years of age)
- People with blonde hair, fair skin, and blue eyes
- Women who have reached menopause
- People with a family history of the condition
Early diagnosis and treatment prevent worsening of the condition. The general physician or a skin specialist diagnoses rosacea based on the symptoms and possible triggers of the condition by performing a physical examination of the skin. However, blood tests and skin biopsy tests may be required to rule out other related conditions such as acne, sunburn and allergic reactions.
Currently, no treatment is available to cure rosacea, but the condition can be controlled by minimizing the symptoms. Treatment is usually provided for an extensive period to provide symptomatic improvement. The treatment procedures include:
- Medicated topical creams or gels may be prescribed to reduce the redness and spots.
- Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to clear up severe spots.
- Laser light treatment or intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment are found to be effective in some cases. In these procedures, the blood vessels of the skin are exposed to the light causing them to shrink and reduce the visibility.
- Microdermabrasion procedure may be helpful to reduce the thickening of the skin.
Occasionally, a gentle facial massage can help to reduce inflammation associated with rosacea.
Joining a support group can help to get connected with people having similar problems and reduces the distress associated with the condition.
Usually, the doctor suggests to follow certain self-care measures besides using the medications; this helps in a faster healing of the condition. These self-care measures may include:
- Avoid the triggers as much as possible
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight or use sunscreens
- Treat the skin gently