Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects more than 14 million Americans of all ages and is particularly common in fair skin types. It is often referred to as “acne rosacea” because rosacea may cause small, red pustules that resemble acne, however the two conditions are not one in the same.
Rosacea affects everyone differently, and while most people who suffer from this condition experience rosacea symptoms on their face (especially the nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead), others may show rosacea symptoms on their ears, neck, chest, back or eyes.
Common rosacea symptoms include:
- Frequent episodes of flushing or blushing
- Visibility of small blood vessels
- Persistent skin redness
- Small, red bumps that may be solid or pus-filled and resemble acne
- Skin irritation, including burning, stinging or itching sensations
- Skin thickening (e.g. rhinophyma)
- Dry skin
- Rough skin plaques, or areas of raised red skin
- Skin swelling and inflammation
- Watery, bloodshot eyes (ocular rosacea)
There are four different stages of rosacea (pre-rosacea, mild, moderate and severe), and symptoms may vary depending on the stage. Additionally, rosacea symptoms may also vary depending on the subtype of rosacea you are experiencing.
Types of Rosacea
- Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea – Characterized by patchy facial redness, especially on the forehead, chin, cheeks and nose
- Papulopustular Rosacea – Characterized by presence of papules or pustules resembling acne
- Phymatous Rosacea – Characterized by severe skin thickening that can lead to significant skin texture irregularities and facial deformation, such as rhinophyma or development of a bulbous nose.
- Ocular Rosacea – Characterized by frequently watery or bloodshot eyes that are dry, irritated and tend to sting, burn or itch.
Rosacea Causes & Triggers
The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, however the medical community suspects heredity may be a primary factor in determining your risk of developing rosacea. Aside from genetics, other potential rosacea causes include genetic predisposition combined with sun exposure and medications that result in blood vessel dilation, as well as a particular mite found in hair follicles (Demodex folliculorum).
Triggers are circumstances or stimuli that cause rosacea symptoms to occur. Common rosacea triggers include sun exposure, stress, extreme temperatures, spicy foods, vigorous exercise, particular medications, cosmetics or skin care products and alcohol consumption.
There is no known cure for rosacea, however popular treatment options include:
- Topical medications
- Oral medications
- Laser treatments
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