Rosacea is a common and chronic skin condition that causes the small blood vessels beneath the skin of the face to enlarge and show up through the skin. Thus, the patient’s skin reddens and the vessels show up as tiny red lines.
What are the Symptoms?
The best-known symptom is persistent redness of the skin that most commonly develops on the face, but can also appear on the ears, scalp, neck or chest. At first, the redness comes and goes, and the patient simply seems to blush a lot. Over time, the redness lasts longer and becomes more noticeable. Small blood vessels become visible in the affected area. Bumps and pimples can also develop.
Rosacea can also affect the eyes. In ocular rosacea, the patient’s eyes become bloodshot and watery. They also become irritated and burn or sting. In severe cases, rosacea can cause the nose to swell and become bulbous. The symptom is called rhinophyma, and it is more commonly seen in men.
Can It Be Prevented?
There are many factors that contribute to a person’s chances of developing rosacea, and some of these cannot be controlled. For example, most patients are women. Being female, therefore, increases the chances of developing the condition. Similarly, it typically first develops in people who are between 30 and 50 years old.
The condition also runs in some families and is particularly common in some ethnic groups. The National Rosacea Society (NRS) conducted a survey and found that 33 percent of respondents had at least one parent of Irish descent, and 26 percent had a parent with English ancestry. Other ethnic groups with high incidences of the condition include Eastern European, Welsh, Scottish and Scandinavian. People with such ancestries tend to have fair skin, and having such skin also increases the likelihood of developing the condition.
On the other hand, there are a number of triggers that can make a rosacea outbreak more likely. While avoiding them can’t prevent a patient from developing the condition altogether, doing so might reduce the chances of an outbreak or make it less severe. Drinking alcohol or eating extremely spicy or hot food, for example, causes the blood vessels to swell and, thus, makes the patient’s skin become redder. Avoiding alcohol and spicy foods can prevent such flushing.
Some environmental conditions can also increase the chances of flushing. Exposure to strong sunlight can make rosacea symptoms worse. The patient should, therefore, wear sunscreen and a broad-brimmed hat when outdoors. Strong and cold winds can also trigger an outbreak, so the patient should either stay indoors or cover their face when outdoors.
The NRS conducted a survey of rosacea patients and asked about their triggers. In addition to the ones already mentioned, common triggers included stress, strenuous exercise, hot baths and certain skin care products, cosmetics and medications.
Triggers vary from patient to patient, and the NRS website provides a diary to help patients identify likely triggers. The patient records their outbreaks and suspected causes in the diary for at least two weeks. After identifying their triggers, the patient can try to avoid them.
What are the Treatment Options?
If you have rosacea, our team at Metro Dermatology can help to manage and treat it. During a consultation at our office in Elmhurst, Flushing, Englewood or the Bronx, we can examine your skin and determine the best treatment plan for you. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.