What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a very common skin condition affecting up to 10% of the population. It is a chronic skin problem meaning that it cannot be cured but can certainly be managed. Although it tends to affect light skinned individuals more often than dark skinned individuals, all skin types can be affected. Rosacea can present in a number of different ways but is officially defined by persistent redness of the central portion of the face lasting for at least 3 months. Supporting criteria include flushing, papules, pustules, and blood vessels called telangiectasias. Secondary characteristics are burning and stinging, swelling, plaques, a dry appearance, ocular manifestations, and nasal tissue changes. In fact there are 4 subtypes of roscaea, however some patients will have more than one subtype:
1. erythematotelangiectatic – redness, flushing, and blood vessels
2. papulopustular – acne like eruption with bumps and pustules
3. ocular – itching and redness mainly affecting the eyes
4. phymatous – skin thickening of the nasal tissue, but also can affect the forehead, chin and ears
What are the causes?
Most patients want to know what is the cause of rosacea and the short answer is we don’t fully understand why rosacea happens. Some theories include exacerbation from genetic factors, immune responses to microbes such as bacteria and demodex (a small, non dangerous mite), and ultraviolet radiation. What is known is that several substances and activities can cause rosacea to get worse in some people: sunlight, heat, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods are the most common buzz words however if you research a rosacea support website you will find lists a lot longer than this one of things that can exacerbate rosacea.
Easy ways to treat rosacea before seeking treatment at your local dermatology provider include avoiding or moderating exacerbating factors, avoiding sunlight and wearing sunscreen when in the sun, staying cool when possible, and avoiding topical steroids like hydrocortisone that can cause rebound flaring. Pharmacological treatment includes topical antibiotics such as metronidazole, sulfacetamide/sulfur and azaleic acid, topical antiparasitics such as ivermectin, and low dosed oral antibiotics such as doxycycline. There are also topical medications that just treat the redness of rosacea: trade names of mirvaso, and rhofade. Resistant cases may be candidates for isotretinoin. Lasers can also be used to treat the redness.
Rosacea is one of the most common chronic skin conditions we see in our office on an everyday basis. We have the knowledge base to help you treat this condition and can help you pave the road to clearer skin!