The truth about Rosacea

April is Rosacea Awareness Month but how much do we actually know about this long-term (chronic) skin condition?

Around eight million people in the UK have Rosacea (pronounced roh-ZAY-sha) a condition which makes the skin flush easily, causes redness on the cheeks, chin, forehead and nose, and sees the developments of small inflamed red bumps and spots.

Whilst it is more common in women than in men, and in those with a fair skin who flush easily, the actual cause of Rosacea still isn’t fully understood.

A number of factors that are considered include abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face and a reaction to microscopic mites that can be found on the face.

Although not thought to be direct cause of rosacea, possible triggers include:

  • Alcohol,
  • Anxiety and stress,
  • Caffeine
  • High and low temperatures,
  • Spicy foods,
  • Sunlight,
  • Too much exercise

If you are concerned that you, or someone you know, has Rosacea, don’t panic, we are here to help.

Let’s start with what to look for and initially for most people their face feels sensitive, and can burn or sting and they also find them blush and flush more easily. Central parts of the face then become a deeper shade of red, and tends to stay this colour. In most cases the area then develops small red bumps (papules) and pus spots, which tend to come and go in crops. Additionally, in some cases small-dilated blood vessels (telangiectasia) appear on the face and look like thin red lines.

Whilst scarring is really a problem there are other issues associated with this condition:

  • Swelling of the face (lymphoedema), especially around the eyes.
  • The nose may become bigger, red and bulbous (rhinophyma) due to the overgrowth of the sebaceous glands – this tends to happen more with men.
  • Eyes can become red, itchy and sore, they may feel gritty feeling, sensitive to light and in vision can be affected, but this is rare.
  • Rosacea is a relapsing condition, so for many patients there are times when symptoms worse than at others which can causing feelings of anxiety and self consciousness.

The key to keeping all of this under control is to see your GP. No, they can’t wave a magic wand and make it go away, but they can offer you advice, support and a treatment plan.

For most people treatment is a combination of self-help measures and medication that include:

  • Avoiding known triggers such as alcohol and caffeine.
  • Applying cream or gel medications directly onto the skin to reduce spots and redness.
  • Taking oral medication to help clear up more severe spots, such as antibiotics.
  • Some people have laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment which involves beams of light being aimed at the visible blood vessels so they shrink and become less visible.

There is no test for Rosacea, but if you think you are suffering make an appointment with your GP. In most case they can diagnose the condition by examining the skin, asking about symptoms and possible triggers. They will put a treatment plan together so you can start to feel better about you and your skin.

Good luck.

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