Rosacea: All you need to know…

What is Rosacea? …in a few words

“The basic definition of Rosacea is that it’s a (relatively common) skin condition that mainly affects the face, the result of which is redness in the face, which can be accompanied by small red, pus-filled bumps.
 Rosacea can occur in both men and women, but tends to be more common in women and in people with fair skin (but not exclusively). Most cases are first diagnosed in middle age, between the ages 30 to 50”

And in a few more words…

Currently, there is no known cure for rosacea, but treatment can help control the symptoms.
 Prompt diagnosis is extremely beneficial, because left untreated; rosacea tends to worsen over time.
 Rosacea is often mistaken for acne, an allergic reaction or other skin problems, so it’s important to see your doctor to ensure that you receive a proper diagnosis and prompt treatment and support.

Primary Symptoms

Rosacea has been described as a relapsing condition, meaning that symptoms vary periodically in severity and frequency.
Signs and symptoms of rosacea may include:

•    Facial redness:  The main hallmark of Rosacea is a marked redness in the central section of the.
•    Visible blood vessels:  The usually small, almost invisible blood vessels on the nose and cheeks often swell and become visible.
•    Swollen red bumps:  Rosacea sufferers also develop bumps (papules and pustules) on their face that resemble acne. These bumps sometimes become filled with pus and the skin may produce a burning and stinging sensation and are often very tender to the touch.
•    Eye problems:  Many people who have rosacea may also have or develop the condition Ocular rosacea whose symptoms include eye dryness, irritation and swollen, reddened eyelids.
•    Enlarged nose:  In rare instances, rosacea can thicken the skin on the nose, causing the nose to appear bulbous (rhinophyma). This variation affects more men than women.

When to Seek Medical Advice

You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you have any of the symptoms listed above, especially if they become persistent, as early treatment can help stop the condition getting worse.
 Unfortunately, there is no specific test for rosacea, but your doctor should be able to diagnosis the condition by examining your skin directly, along with a discussion about your specific symptoms, which may include a discussion about possible triggers you may have experienced.
 In addition, your doctor may arrange further tests, such as a blood test or skin biopsy to rule out other conditions, such as other forms of acne, psoriasis and various forms of eczema or lupus, which can sometimes cause similar signs and symptoms.

It’s important to note that whilst many of the symptoms of rosacea can be controlled to a degree with treatment and potentially some lifestyle changes, do not hesitate to discuss any psychological impact your condition is causing you with your doctor also.
 If your doctor is in any doubt whatsoever as to the exact nature of your condition, request a referral to see a dermatologist, who should have no problems at all in diagnosing your condition.

Possible Causes

The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, although many possible factors have been suggested, including a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, abnormalities in the blood vessels in the face and potentially a reaction to microscopic mites commonly found on the face (Demodex Mites).

You may already notice that certain foods, temperatures, activities or moods will trigger your rosacea to flare up. There are many suspected rosacea triggers, which may include some of the following:

•    Foods and drinks:  Alcohol, Spicy foods, Hot drinks, Hot foods (temperature)
•    Activities:  Strenuous exercise and/or heavy exertion, Hot baths or saunas
•    Extreme Weather conditions:  Hot weather, Cold weather, Humid weather, Wind, Direct Sunlight
•    Emotions:  Stress or anxiety, Sudden changes in emotion such as embarrassment.
•    Medical conditions or medications:  Menopause, Chronic cough, Drugs that dilate blood vessels, including some blood pressure medications
•    Other potential rosacea triggers:  Skin products, Medicines, such as topical steroids, some blood pressure drugs, and some opiate painkillers

Possible Treatments and drugs

Although currently, there’s no known cure for rosacea, there are some treatments that can control and reduce the signs and symptoms. More often than not, this requires a combination of prescription treatments and potentially, some lifestyle changes.

Medication

As mentioned earlier, there are treatments that can help control the symptoms of rosacea and some prescribed medications may include:

•    Antibiotics:  Many of the antibiotics used for treating rosacea also have anti-inflammation effects. They may come in the form of topical creams, gels or lotions to spread on the affected skin or they may be prescribed in pill form that the patient ingests. Antibiotic pills whilst more effective initially, may cause more side effects.
•    Acne drugs:  Depending on the effectiveness of any antibiotics, your doctor might suggest trying isotretinoin*. This is a powerful drug most commonly associated with the treatment of severe cystic acne, but it has proven to help clear up acne-like lesions of rosacea.

*CAUTION! This drug is known to cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy.

The severity of your specific symptoms will affect the duration of your treatment but you should notice an improvement in your condition within a month or so.

As these treatments are designed to alleviate symptoms and not to cure, your prescribed medications are likely to be for the long term due to the likelihood of recurring symptoms should you stop any treatment.

Additional Procedures

Should your condition produce enlarged, permanent blood vessels as a result of rhinophyma, you may be offered surgical procedures such as laser surgery or electro surgery, which can reduce the visibility of the enlarged blood vessels.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

If at all possible, try to work out what your personal rosacea triggers are and if you succeed in identifying your own specific ‘flare up’ triggers, find ways to avoid them.
 The important thing is to try to understand what causes your own rosacea symptoms. You can use a triggers diary to keep track.

Alternative Therapies

There are many alternative therapies, all of which claim to alleviate the effects of rosacea, however, there is no conclusive evidence that any alternative therapy is more effective than prescribed medications.
 In any case, it is always advisable to discuss any alternative treatment you plan to use with your doctor. Equally, if you intend to take dietary supplements or try alternative therapies to treat rosacea, please consult your doctor.

Coping and Support

Because of the prominent nature of rosacea, the condition can cause great emotional discomfort and stress. Rosacea sufferers may feel embarrassed or anxious about their symptoms and become self-conscious and withdrawn.
 Talking to a counselor about these feelings can be helpful.

As with any medical condition, a professional diagnosis to determine the exact problem is only half the battle. And it’s all well and good knowing the definition of your condition, but with rosacea, the psychological effects can often be as bad as the physical effects.
 Because of the prominent location and nature of rosacea, the condition can cause great emotional discomfort and stress. Rosacea sufferers may feel embarrassed or anxious about their symptoms and become self-conscious and withdrawn.
Rosacea support groups that connect others facing the same types of problems can be especially comforting.

And Finally…

Stress Reduction

Stress can often exacerbate the symptoms of rosacea, so an obvious way to avoid ‘flare ups’ is to relax! Easier said than done right? Well, should you be lucky enough to find yourself in a spa (The ultimate in relaxation therapies!) then you’ll find no shortage of relaxing, stress busting treatments on offer. 
Spas offer a number of ways to help their clients relax, including massages, steam treatments, and hot rock therapies.
Unfortunately a facial massage will increase blood flow to the face, which can trigger a flare-up. Steam and heat are known rosacea triggers, so these treatments will only make your rosacea symptoms worse, so we won’t be recommending our Ultimate Facial Massage course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a treat!

Spa treatments you can enjoy if you have Rosacea:

• Any massage that does not include your face, cause you to overheat or involve placing anything warm on your face.
Tell the masseuse that you have rosacea and ask that warm or hot items not be placed on your face.

Spa treatments to avoid if you have Rosacea:

• Facial massages
• Heat treatments that affect the face (sauna, hot rock therapy)
• Steam treatments that affect the face (wet sauna, hot shower, hot cloth applied to the face.

Talk to Your Doctor & Dermatologist

This article provides general guidelines for the condition rosacea. If alternative therapies or spa treatments interest you, be sure to talk with your doctor or dermatologist first. Not all occurrences or types of rosacea are the same.
 The type of rosacea you may have, the severity, and your personal triggers all affect the therapies or spa treatments that may and may not be right for you.

Good luck.

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Author: Alex Marsh

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