Many of us apply blush to add a healthy pink flush on our cheeks. But for some, rosy cheeks aren’t planned or wanted. According to rosacea.org, 16 million Americans suffer from Rosacea, a condition that causes redness and acne like symptoms, yet 78% of them have no knowledge of the condition, including how to recognize it or what to do about it. In this article, we break down the facts.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea presents itself at first as redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. In some cases, rosacea may also occur on the neck, chest, scalp or ears. Over time, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop, and in severe cases the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. One type of rosacea can also affect the eyes so watery or irritated eyes, red swollen eyelids and styes could also be a sign.
Rosacea can affect anyone; however, those with fair skin who flush easily and those with a family history of rosacea may be at higher risk. In most people, rosacea begins any time after the age of 30.
What is the treatment?
Rosacea can’t be completely cured, but if caught early, it can be managed and prevented from becoming serious.
A dermatologist will prescribe a combination of oral and topical medications. The exact medications will depend on the symptoms. Once the symptoms are in check, the doctor will most likely have you continue with a long-term topical treatment to keep the rosacea in remission. When appropriate, treatments with lasers, intense pulsed light sources or other medical and surgical devices may be used to remove visible blood vessels, reduce extensive redness or correct disfigurement of the nose. Ocular rosacea may be treated with oral antibiotics and other therapy.
Since rosacea is not acne, you should not try to treat it with over the counter acne medicines. Patients undergoing rosacea treatment should use a gentle skincare routine formulated for sensitive skin. You should check with your doctor to ensure the products you use don’t negatively affect the results of your rosacea treatment. People with rosacea should avoid exfoliating, abrasive cleansers, washing with excessively hot water and pulling, tugging or using a rough washcloth on skin. Since sun exposure can be a trigger for rosacea flare-ups, people with rosacea should always wear SPF.
In a study done by the National Rosacea Society, the top 3 triggers identified by patients were sun exposure, emotional stress and hot weather. However, since everyone’s skin is unique, so are the triggers for rosacea flare-ups. Rosacea can be triggered by specific food, hot weather or temperature changes, emotional stress, food/drink and physical exertion. In addition to medical treatment, rosacea sufferers can improve their chances of maintaining remission by identifying and avoiding lifestyle and environmental factors that trigger rosacea flare-ups or aggravate their individual conditions. For listings of common factors that may aggravate rosacea in individual cases, see Rosacea Triggers.
The flushed face and pimples that rosacea can cause, leave many who have it with social anxiety. Like any skin condition, rosacea can be treated so that it is manageable and does not cause any long term effects.
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