Often mistaken for adult acne, Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects nearly 14 million Americans. Rosacea may start as a tendency to blush easily, but its symptoms can progress to include facial redness, red bumps and pustules, and enlarged blood vessels. Rosacea rarely goes away on its own and may last for years. By better understanding rosacea, its possible causes, and its treatment options, patients can improve their chances of eliminating this troublesome condition.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a long-term skin condition that tends to first appear around age 30, though "pre-rosacea" has been identified in people in their teens and early 20s. There are many symptoms associated with rosacea; without treatment, these symptoms can worsen intensely.
The different subtypes of rosacea are identified according to symptoms and levels of severity. Some common indicators that unite all forms of rosacea include:
- Consistent blushing or flushing of the face, ears, neck, and chest
- Chronic facial redness, burning, itching, and swelling (edema)
- Bumps and pimples
- Spider veins (telangiectasia)
In extreme cases, rosacea can cause thickening and disfiguring of the skin. This can sometimes lead to a condition called rhinophyma, characterized by a distinctively "bulbous" nose.
Rosacea can also occur in or around the eyes, a form known as ocular rosacea. Symptoms of ocular rosacea include watery, bloodshot eyes that are prone to sties. If you think you might have ocular rosacea, contact a doctor immediately. If left unchecked, ocular rosacea can cause damage to the cornea or even blindness.
Although there is a large body of research on rosacea, its causes are still unknown. Researchers believe that rosacea is likely caused by a combination of genetic conditions and environmental factors, such as bacterial infection and sun damage.
Acne and Rosacea
While acne and rosacea do not cause one another, the two skin conditions often appear together. Unfortunately, acne vulgaris and rosacea require two different kinds of treatment. Rosacea is a disorder afflicting the extensive vascular network of the face, whereas acne is related to the oil glands and can affect skin all over the body. If you have acne and rosacea, it is important to consult with a medical professional about your skin care, as the method used to treat one condition may worsen the other.
If you are struggling with the painful symptoms associated with rosacea, there are several skin care treatments available that may be able to provide relief. A dermatologist can prescribe oral antibiotics and a topical solution to help bring your rosacea under control. In some cases, photodynamic therapy can be very successful in reducing redness and the appearance of blood vessels. For patients with severe rhinophyma, laser resurfacing can sometimes be used to reshape the nose.
Rosacea Topical Treatment
Rosacea skin care products aim to manage rosacea once the disorder is already under control. In 1989, the first topical treatment specific to rosacea was approved by the FDA. Metronidazole is manufactured under several different names, including Metrogel®, Metrocream® and Metrolotion®, and Noritate®. Another rosacea-specific topical product is Rosacea-LTD IIITM, a mixture of zinc oxide, polyethylene glycol, manganesium sterate, iron oxide, sodium chloride, and sulfur.
Dermatologists might also prescribe other topical rosacea skin care products containing a sulfuric or azaleic acid, as well as gentle cleansers and moisturizers. For more information on topical rosacea treatment, visit our professional skin care products page.
Non-Ablative Rosacea Treatment
Non-ablative rosacea treatments are non-surgical, laser-free procedures that can significantly improve the texture and appearance of your skin. Although non-ablative skin treatments aren't necessarily rosacea-specific, they can be successful in enhancing and repairing damaged complexions, even reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Three excellent non-ablative procedures that can be used for treating rosacea are microdermabrasion, IPLTM Photorejuvenation, and chemical peels.
Microdermabrasion is a dermatological technique used to repair and refresh facial skin that is blemished by acne, aging, rosacea, and more. After spraying or spreading a mixture of fine crystals across the face, the doctor gently polishes the skin. Finally, the face is cleansed, revealing fresher, clearer skin.
IPLTM Photorejuvenation is an easy and effective method of reducing the symptoms of rosacea, hyperpigmentation, sun exposure, and many other types of skin damage. Intense pulses of light are emitted onto the skin, penetrating into the deepest layers and stimulating the constriction of collagen and blood vessels.
Chemical peels use various formulas of phenol, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) to refine and refinish the skin by removing damaged outer layers. The formulas are customized to suit the patient's particular skin care needs, and can be very effective in treating rosacea by improving facial redness and edema.
Rosacea Laser Treatment
Perhaps the most powerful method of treating rosacea is through a laser procedure. Laser surgery is used to remove deep scarring and skin damage, repair telangiectasia, and refinish the skin to diminish redness and swelling. One of the most common rosacea laser treatment options is laser resurfacing. Laser resurfacing uses an intense laser to remove damaged skin layer by layer. One of the benefits of rosacea laser treatment is that it can be used on the entire face or just specific target areas.
Find a Skin Care Professional
Stop hiding your rosacea and start healing your skin. You deserve the best possible dermatological care, and DocShop's national directory of medical professionals can help. Locate a skilled cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist in your area to get even more information on rosacea skin care products and laser treatment options.