What Is Rosacea?

Written by on June 30, 2012 in Skin Diseases - No comments

Rosacea , from photographic illustrations of skin diseases

Just what is rosacea? Whether we have a red discoloration in our cheeks, or have noticed it on our friends and family, the fact is that rosacea is quite prevalent among Caucasians.  As defined by the NIH, rosacea is a chronic  acneform disorder characterized by flushing and sometimes more pimple -like pustules and papules, that results in sores, appearing like acne. It’s most common among fairer skinned people, and women are more likely than men to have it.  Rosacea often presents as facial stinging,burning and product intolerance. 

The butterfly facial rash of systemic lupus erythematosus can be confused with rosacea.



Just What Does It Look Like?

W.C. Fields had the classic scarring form of rosacea,   called rhinophyma,with a knobby thickened appearance to his  nose.

W.C. Fields had the typical symptoms of rosacea on his nose.

Not all rosacea sufferers are drinkers, but alcohol does make the condition worse, as does heat, sun, stress, spicy foods, tomatoes, eggplant, pickled foods and hormones.  Rosacea-sufferers should assess their diet and try to reduce these foods which can exacerbate rosacea’s symptoms.


How To Treat It

Daily, year-round sunscreen has been shown to calm rosacea.  As a dermatologist, I recommend always wearing sunscreen, though I emphatically suggest it for rosacea-sufferers.  Anthelios is my preferred brand.  You can also wear a daily moisturizer that contains titanium dioxide to protect from UV. One such product would be Elta MD SPF 41.

Substitute a soothing cleanser for your daily cleanser.  Aqua-Nil HC is recommended.

For those seeking a homepathic solution, licorice root is found in some non- prescription redness relief lotions and has been shown to calm rosacea.  Additionally, holding ice chips in the mouth will cool blood vessels and reduce facial redness  caused  by the flush of rosacea, though naturally this is only temporary.  Over-the -counter nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline HCl (e.g. Afrin) can be used topically to help manage flares of redness.

Difficult to control cases can be treated with very low dose oral antibiotics, prescription strength B vitamins, prescription gels with metronidazole,sulfur,or azaleic acid, as well as various laser approaches,like “IPL” or intermittent pulsed light.

 Ocular rosacea is a condition causing symptoms of eye redness, and a feeling of grittiness in the eye, similar to blepharitis or conjunctivitis in that respect. Low dose doxycycline (Oracea) is very useful in this condition.


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