Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that mainly affects the face. The first signs of rosacea may be a blush or redness that initially appears and disappears. Over time, the redness may become persistent and more visible.
What are the symptoms of rosacea?
The symptomatic areas are usually the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. Rosacea sometimes affects the eyes, which can become bloodshot and feel like “sand” in the eye. More than half of people with rosacea will also have ocular symptoms.
Bumps, small purulent pimples and dilated blood vessels may also appear, giving the skin a rough, uneven appearance. The symptoms of rosacea can vary from person to person and it is impossible to predict the degree of severity. There is no known cure for rosacea, but it is possible to minimize symptoms with appropriate treatments and lifestyle changes.
In some rare cases, the symptoms of rosacea can be so severe that the skin on the nose thickens and becomes swollen and bumpy. This disorder is called rhinophyma. It is characterized by thick, red bumps on and around the nose that develops when the sebaceous glands and surrounding connective tissue become swollen and dilated. This more severe form of rosacea occurs mostly when the disease has not been treated. Rhinophyma sometimes occurs in men with rosacea but very rarely in women.
Who does it affect?
Rosacea usually occurs in adults between the ages of 30 and 50. It affects both men and women but appears to be more common in women, while the most severe cases seem to affect mostly men. Although rosacea can occur in people with all skin types, those with fair skin tend to be more prone to it (people of Northern and Eastern European, Irish, English, or Scottish descent, for example).
Signs of rosacea
- Frequent reddening or flushing of the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead
- Persistent redness
- Dilated blood vessels that form a network of red lines on the surface of the skin
- Dry skin
- Burning or stinging sensation, itching
- Bumps that look like pimples but without comedones (blackheads) or whiteheads
What causes rosacea?
Experts are still unsure of the exact causes of rosacea but believe it is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are several theories as to the possible causes.
- The immune system appears to play a role in the development of rosacea.
- Light-skinned people of Irish, Scottish, or English descent or from Eastern and Northern Europe seem to be more prone to rosacea.
- Family history is considered a risk factor.
- Sun exposure is a known risk factor for rosacea.
- The skin mite Demodex folliculorum may contribute to rosacea. According to this theory, mites obstruct the sebaceous glands and cause the inflammation
- underlying rosacea.
- A bacterium associated with gastrointestinal ulcers, Helicobacter pylori, may play a role.
What are the types of rosacea?
There are four types of rosacea, which can be distinguished as follows:
- Benign (erythematotelangiectatic) – The main symptoms are facial redness that may appear and disappear. There may also be swelling and a burning and tingling sensation; the skin may be rough and small veins may become visible on the skin’s surface.
- Moderate (papulopustular) – This is a more advanced form of rosacea that is characterized by persistent redness and bumps that resemble acne pimples (and are often mistaken for acne) as well as a burning and stinging sensation.
- Severe (phymatous) – In some people, rosacea can affect the nose, causing the skin to thicken (the nose appears enlarged) and become bumpy. This advanced type of rosacea is called rhinophyma.
- Ocular Rosacea – In addition to skin symptoms, rosacea can also affect the eyes and eyelids. It can cause redness of the skin around the eye and also burning, stinging, dryness, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and watery and bloodshot eyes.
How can it be treated?
Laser treatment involves using a pulsed dye laser to treat the small visible red veins. To reduce the excess tissue associated with rhinophyma, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, or cosmetic surgery may be used.
Some stats about rosacea
- Nearly two million Canadians suffer from rosacea.
- It is a chronic skin condition for which there is no definitive cure, but that can be controlled.
- It usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50.
- Women are generally more prone to rosacea than men.
- It is often misdiagnosed as adult acne.
- About half of those affected have ocular symptoms.