Rosacea – Symptoms and Treatments

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spicy foodsDo you have chronic redness on your nose and cheeks? Do you notice that your face flushes when you eat certain foods like tomatoes, spicy foods, or dairy.

Do you get small pimples on your face in the winter when your skin is dry? Chances are you might have Rosacea.

Condition

Rosacea is a common skin condition affecting an estimated 16 million Americans. The exact causes are not known but there are theories that certain skin bacteria or skin mites could be the cause or at least part of the factors involved with Rosacea.

Symptoms

rosacea on nose and cheeksThe mildest form of Rosacea is redness or flushing along the nose and cheeks. It can spread all over the face and to the neck, chest, and scalp.

This may progress to seeing visible blood vessels on the face and bumps like pimples may appear.

The most severe cases cause the nose to swell. W. C. Fields had a severe case of Rosacea and it gave him his trademark bulbous nose.

If  You Suspect You Might Have Rosacea, Look For These Signs:

  • Persistent redness and flushing of the face.
  • Dry, rough appearance of the skin.
  • Burning or stinging sensation, especially after using moisturizers or cosmetics.
  • Puss-filled bumps that resemble blackheads but do not respond to acne treatments.
  • Persistent, irritated or bloodshot eyes.
  • Visible blood vessels on the face.
  • Thickening of the skin, called edema.

Types of Rosacea

 Types of rosaceaThere are four basic types of Rosacea. Most people have a combination of at least two of these types.

Subtype 1 (erythematotelangiectatic rosacea) – flushing and persistent redness with or without visible blood vessels of the face.

Subtype 2 (papulopustular rosacea) – persistent redness with acne-like bumps. Subtype 3 (phymatous rosacea) – skin thickening, especially around the nose from excess tissue.

Subtype 4 (ocular rosacea) – affecting the eye such as dry eye, tearing and burning, swollen eyelids, styes, and the possibility of vision loss

Treatments

 DoctorIf you suspect you have Rosacea, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist to get a diagnosis. For mild cases, your family doctor can offer treatment options.

For more severe cases, you will probably be referred to a specialist. Mild cases can be treated with prescription antibiotic creams that are applied as necessary when flare-ups occur.

Sometimes oral antibiotics are used to get Rosacea under control.

For more advanced forms of Rosacea, there are light therapies and laser therapies. Intense beams of light and/or focused laser are used on targeted sections of the skin to reduce swelling and redness. Treatments are usually done in a series to produce the most lasting effect. This treatment is often used with visible blood vessels and swelling.

Living with Rosacea

Rosacea is not curable but it is manageable. You will need to start using mild facial soaps so that they do not irritate your face. Use lukewarm water and blot your face dry with soft towels. Do not scrub your face with rough washcloths or use exfoliants as they will just trigger your Rosacea.

doctorCosmetics can be used to cover up Rosacea. Make sure you used products approved for use by people with Rosacea. Don’t just use “anti-allergy” or “mild” cosmetics.

Your doctor or dermatologist will have a list of potentially irritating ingredients in cosmetics to avoid. Read labels carefully and test products. If they burn, sting, or irritate your skin, stop using them immediately.

Sunscreen should be used every day, even in the winter time. Sunlight can aggravate Rosacea and damage skin. Use a moisturizer with sunscreen on a daily basis.

If you are going to be outside for a prolonged period of time, especially in the summer time, use a facial sunscreen of at least 15 SPF to protect your face.

Reapply it every few hours as you can sweat it off, even if it is waterproof. Baby sunscreen is usually a safe choice as it is mild and formulated to be non-irritating. Good old-fashioned zinc oxide is always a good choice, even though it will make you look like a life-guard.

Rosacea Triggers

Rosacea can be triggered by many factors. One of the key elements in managing rosacea is to learn what triggers your conditions and avoid them. It will take some time and experimentation as not all triggers show up immediately. You might have to limit or give up favorite foods and drinks to keep your Rosacea under control.

Common Triggers are as follows:

Women in stressStress

Anxiety

  •  Exercise
  •  Cold
  •  Sunlight
  •  Tomatoes
  •  Eggplant
  •  Spicy foods (check for individual spices)
  •  Yogurt
  •  Sour Cream
  •  Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Soy (soy is used as an additive in many foods so check labels as well)
  •  Yeast
  •  Citrus

Alcohol Alcohol

  •  Hot beverages
  •  Hot baths or saunas
  •  Steroids
  •  Menopause
  •  Illness

One way to discover and manage triggers is to keep a diary of your condition. Write down what you eat, what you do, and how your skin looks each day. Note any changes in your skin.

You can even take a picture so you can compare images. Over time, you will start to see patterns and can determine what triggers your Rosacea. Some triggers, like food or strong wind, can be instant. Other happen over time like cold weather or stress.

Rosacea is not a life-threatening condition but it can have life-long effects. Fortunately, it is treatable and relatively easy to manage with some lifestyle changes. You might have to dial down your favorite salsa or change your bath soap, but you can learn to live with Rosacea.

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