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Rosacea is a very common red, acne-like benign skin condition that affects many people worldwide. As of 2010, rosacea is estimated to affect approximately 45 million people worldwide. Most people with rosacea are caucasian and have fair skin. The main symptoms of rosacea include red or pink patches, visible tiny broken blood vessels, small red bumps, sometimes containing pus, red cysts, and pink or irritated eyes.
Most people with the disease may not even know they have rosacea or that it is a diagnosable and treatable condition. Many people who have rosacea may just assume they blush or flush easily or are just very sun sensitive.
Rosacea is not considered contagious or infectious. There is no evidence that rosacea can be spread by contact with the skin, sharing towels, or through inhalation. The redness in rosacea, often aggravated by flushing, may cause small blood vessels in the face to enlarge (dilate) and become more visible through the skin, appearing like tiny red lines. Continual or repeated episodes of flushing and blushing may promote inflammation, causing small red bumps that often resemble teenage acne. In fact, rosacea can frequently be mistaken for common acne.
Is rosacea like acne?
Rosacea is basically different than acne, although the two can coexist. It is also sometimes called “adult acne.” Unlike common acne, rosacea is not primarily a plague of teenagers but occurs most often in adults (ages 30-50), especially in those with fair skin. Different than acne, there are usually no blackheads in rosacea. Furthermore, most teens eventually outgrow acne whereas patients with rosacea don’t generally outgrow it. Rosacea consists mostly of small red bumps that are not “squeezable” or extractable like blackheads. Squeezing a rosacea pimple usually causes a scant amount of clear liquid to expel. People with rosacea tend to have a rosy or pink color to their skin as opposed to acne patients whose skin is usually less red.Rosacea strikes both sexes and potentially all ages. It tends to be more frequent in women but more severe in men. It is very uncommon in children, and it is very infrequently seen in darker skin tones or black skin.
What are the causes and risk factors of rosacea?
The exact cause of rosacea is still unknown and remains a mystery. The basic process seems to involve dilation of the small blood vessels of the face. Suspected causes of rosacea include but are not limited to genetic factors, genetics plus sun exposure, a mite sometimes found in hair follicles, gastrointestinal disease, and medications that cause blood vessels to widen. There seems to be a hereditary component to rosacea in a large number of people. Often people have close family members with rosacea.
Rosacea tends to affect the “blush” areas of the face and is more common in people who flush easily. Additionally, a variety of triggers are known to cause rosacea to flare. Emotional factors (stress, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, etc.) may trigger blushing and aggravate rosacea. A flare-up can be caused by changes in the weather like strong winds or a change in the humidity. Sun exposure and sun-damaged skin is generally associated with rosacea. Exercise, alcohol consumption, emotional upsets, and spicy food are other well-known triggers that may aggravate rosacea. Many patients may also notice flares around the holidays, particularly Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Rosacea risk factors include fair skin, English, Irish or Scottish heredity, easy blushing, and having other family members with rosacea .Additional risk factors include female gender, menopause, and being 30-50 years of age
What happens to the nose and the eyes?
The nose is typically one of the first facial areas to be affected in rosacea. It can become red and bumpy and develop noticeable dilated small blood vessels. Left untreated, advanced stages of rosacea can cause a disfiguring nose condition called rhinophyma , literally growth of the nose, characterized by a bulbous, enlarged red nose and puffy cheeks. There may also be thick bumps on the lower half of the nose and the nearby cheek areas. Rhinophyma occurs mainly in men. Severe rhinophyma can require surgical correction and repair.
Some people falsely attribute the prominent red nose to excessive alcohol intake, and this stigma can cause embarrassment to those with rosacea. Although a red nose may be seen in patients with heavy alcohol use, not every patient with rosacea abuses alcohol.
Rosacea may or may not affect the eyes. Not everyone with rosacea has eye issues. A complication of advanced rosacea, known as ocular rosacea, affects the eyes. About half of all people with rosacea report feeling burning, dryness, and grittiness of the eyes (conjunctivitis). These individuals may also experience redness of the eyelids and light sensitivity.
Although there is no cure, Rosacea can be managed with antibiotics. The limiting factor is that antibiotics do not treat the consequences of Rosacea namely; redness and scarring of the skin. Eventually the Rosacea recurs which further increases in redness and scarring and the cycle continues.
In order to improve redness and treat the veins then there are only 2 available treatments. Namely vascular laser therapy to remove veins and photodynamic therapy to improve redness and induce remission.
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