Rosacea is a long-term disease that affects your skin and sometimes your eyes.
It causes redness and pimples. Rosacea is most common in women and people with fair skin. It most often affects middle-aged and older adults.
In most cases, rosacea only affects the face.
Symptoms can include
- Frequent redness of the face, or flushing
- Small, red lines under the skin
- A swollen nose
- Thick skin, usually on the forehead, chin, and cheeks
- Red, dry, itchy eyes and sometimes vision problems
No one knows what causes rosacea. You may be more likely to have it if you blush a lot or if rosacea runs in your family. Rosacea is not dangerous. There is no cure, but treatments can help. They include medicines and sometimes surgery.
About 14 million people in the United States have rosacea.
This disease is most common in:
- Women-- especially during menopause
- People with fair skin
- Adults between the ages of 30 and 60
Doctors don’t know the exact cause of rosacea. Some doctors think rosacea happens when blood vessels expand too easily, causing flushing. People who blush a lot may be more likely to get rosacea. It is also thought that people inherit the likelihood of getting the disease.
Though not well-researched, some people say that one or more of these factors make their rosacea worse:
- Heat (including hot baths)
- Heavy exercise
- Very cold temperatures
- Hot or spicy foods and drinks
- Drinking alcohol
- Emotional stress
- Long-term use of steroids on the face.
People with rosacea and pimples may think the pimples are caused by bacteria. But no one has found a clear link between rosacea and bacteria.
Rosacea has many symptoms, including the following:
- Frequent redness of the face. Most redness is at the center of the face. There may also be a burning feeling and slight swelling.
- Small red lines under the skin. These lines show up when blood vessels under the skin get larger. This area of the skin may be somewhat swollen, warm, and red.
- Constant redness along with bumps on the skin. Sometimes the bumps have pus inside (pimples), but not always. Solid bumps on the skin may later become painful.
- Inflamed eyes/eyelids.
- A swollen nose. In some people (mostly men), the nose becomes red, larger, and bumpy.
- Thicker skin. The skin on the forehead, chin, cheeks, or other areas can become thicker because of rosacea.
Eye Problems Associated with Rosacea
Many people who have rosacea get eye problems. Eyes can have redness, dryness, itching, burning, excess tears, and the feeling of having sand in the eye. The eyelids may become inflamed and swollen. The eyes may become sensitive to light, and the person may have blurred vision or some other kind of vision problem.
Your health care provider can often diagnose rosacea by doing a physical exam and asking questions about your medical history.
There is no cure for rosacea, but it can be treated and controlled. In time the skin may look better.
There are several ways to treat rosacea.
- Sometimes antibiotics can be put right on the skin. Other times, oral antibiotics can be used. Topical gels can ease the redness associated with rosacea.
- Small red lines can be treated with electrosurgery and laser surgery. For some people, laser surgery improves the skin without much scarring or damage.
- Patients with a swollen, bumpy nose can have extra skin tissue taken off to make it smaller. Usually patients feel this process helps their appearance.
- Some people find that green-tinted makeup is good for hiding the skin’s redness.
For the eyes:
- Most eye problems can be treated with medicines.
- People who get infections of the eyelids must clean them a lot. The doctor may say to scrub the eyelids gently with watered-down baby shampoo or an over-the-counter eyelid cleaner. After scrubbing, you should apply a warm (but not hot) compress a few times a day.
- If needed, the doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops.
You play a key role in taking care of your rosacea.
Here are a few steps to take:
- Keep a written record of when flares happen. This can give you clues about what bothers your skin.
- Use a sunscreen every day that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Make sure it has a sun-protecting factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
- Use a lubricant if it helps. Don’t put irritating products on the face.
- If your eyes have problems, follow your doctor’s treatment plan, and clean your eyelids as told.
- Talk with a doctor if you feel sad or have other signs of depression. Some people with rosacea feel bad because of the way their skin looks.
Rosacea is a harmless condition, but it may cause you to be self-conscious or embarrassed. It cannot be cured, but may be controlled with treatment.