Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects an estimated 14 million Americans. Rosacea isn’t overly uncomfortable physically, but can be difficult to live with emotionally, causing a person to be embarrassed when he or she has an outbreak. This can make the person self-conscious, leading them to avoid social situations until their flare-up has subsided.
Our eight board-certified dermatologists at our four Georgia Dermatology Partners locations can help. Our experienced team can work with you to control and treat your rosacea. Plus, we can help you understand the potential triggers behind your flare-ups. Call 770.972.4845 to learn more or to begin treatment!
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that creates redness and visible blood vessels on the facial skin. More extreme flare-ups may include small, red, pus-filled bumps. Flare-ups can last for weeks, even months, and then the skin may calm down for a while before flaring up again.
People often don’t even know they have rosacea, instead thinking they simply blush more easily than others, or maybe it’s a bit of acne or an allergic reaction.
What does a rosacea flare-up look like?
Rosacea usually causes a persistent redness in the central part of the person’s face. Small blood vessels on the nose and cheeks often swell and become visible on the surface. Often, the person develops swollen red bumps that resemble pimples and can contain pus. But unlike acne, these pimples can feel hot and tender. Over time, rosacea can thicken the skin on the nose, causing the nose to appear more bulbous. In ocular rosacea, the person’s eyes and eyelids become red and swollen.
What causes rosacea?
Despite its prevalence, the causes of rosacea are still somewhat of a mystery. It is thought to be a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. There may be an immune function relationship. Personal hygiene, or lack thereof, does not cause rosacea. Rosacea is not contagious.
Researchers believe there is a genetic tendency to rosacea. Research also points to a bug that is common to those with rosacea, H pylori. Also, the predominance of a skin mite seems to have a link with the condition. These factors have not been definitively proven, however.
A number of factors can trigger an outbreak or aggravate your symptoms because they increase blood flow to the surface of the skin. These factors include:
- Spicy foods
- Hot drinks
- Temperature extremes
- Sun exposure
- Wind exposure
- Drugs that dilate the blood vessels
Who is more prone to rosacea?
Rosacea is common; estimates place the number of Americans with the condition at over 14 million. These are the characteristics of those who are dealing with rosacea:
- Between the ages of 30 and 50
- Fair-skinner, and often with blonde hair and blue eyes
- Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry
- Likely to have someone in their family tree with rosacea or severe acne
- Likely to have had lots of acne, with cysts and/or nodules
Women are slightly more likely to get rosacea, but men are more likely to get severe rosacea. Otherwise, people of all colors get rosacea. Even children can get it.
Is rosacea painful?
Rosacea isn’t considered painful, although the skin becomes more sensitive during a flare-up. The skin can also be swollen and may sting or burn. In ocular rosacea, the eyes may burn, sting, or itch.
Rosacea can have effects beyond the skin and eyes. Because rosacea is a chronic skin disease, it can impact a person’s quality of life. It can affect relationships, work, and make the person avoid social situations during flare-ups. Surveys and studies report that living with rosacea can cause these issues:
- Feelings of frustration and embarrassment — In surveys conducted by the National Rosacea Society, 41 percent said their rosacea caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements.
- Worry — People worry their rosacea will worsen or cause scarring. They worry about side effects from long-term medication use.
- Self-esteem issues — National Rosacea Society research shows that 70 percent of people living with rosacea said the condition lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Work-related problems — Further research finds that when a person’s rosacea is severe, 70 percent of people say the disease affects their work interactions. Nearly one third say rosacea causes them to miss work.
- Anxiety and depression — Lack of understanding can lead people to assume a person suffering an unexpected flare-up has a drinking problem. This leads to anxiety and depression.
What are the best rosacea treatment options?
At Georgia Dermatology Partners, we feel there are two key aspects to treatment of rosacea — to provide both treatment of flare-ups and education as to potential triggers causing those flare-ups. There is no cure.
We use three types of drugs for treating rosacea:
- Medications to address the redness — The drug brimonidine is effective for reducing redness. When applied topically to the skin it works to constrict the blood vessels. Other topical products that reduce redness and the pimples with mild rosacea are azelaic acid and metronidazole. These drugs take from 3-6 weeks to improve rosacea.
- Oral antibiotics — Oral antibiotics, such as doxycycline, may be used to fight the inflammation showing in pimples and bumps.
- Isotretinoin — This powerful acne drug also helps to clear up acne-like lesions stemming from rosacea.
Is light treatment for rosacea effective?
We’ve had good success with light treatments, such as intense pulsed light and pulsed dye lasers. They can treat the broken capillaries, lessening the redness.
Beyond that, our board-certified dermatologists can isolate the triggers that are leading to your flare-ups. Educating you about these can help you avoid or minimize these foods or behaviors that are aggravating your rosacea.
Sun protection is very important for rosacea patients. Wearing sunscreen with at least SPF 30 is crucial. Hats and protective clothing are helpful, as well.
Your skin care regimen can also involve triggers. Actions such as scrubbing the skin can cause a flare-up. Many skin care products and cosmetics can irritate your skin.
What happens if I don’t treat my rosacea?
Rosacea doesn’t become worse without treatment. It is what it is. Most people opt to come see us for treatment simply to avoid the embarrassment of flare-ups.
Is there a cure for rosacea?
There is no cure for rosacea. At Georgia Dermatology Partners, we work with our rosacea patients to help them identify potential triggers that are causing their flare-ups, and to help them manage their flare-ups.