Rosacea is a common inflammatory rash, characterized by facial redness, superficial dilated blood vessels of the face, papules, pustules and swelling. It most commonly affects middle-aged women and people with fair skin. Left untreated, it worsens over time.
Characteristics of rosacea include:
- Frequent blushing or flushing
- A red face due to persistent redness and/or prominent blood vessel formation (Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea)
- Red papules and pustules on the nose, forehead, cheeks and chin (Inflammatory or Papulopustular rosacea)
- Sensitive skin: burning and stinging, especially in reaction to aggravating make-up, sunscreen and other facial creams
- Red, sore or gritty eyelid margins including papules and styes (blepharitis), and sore or tired eyes (conjunctivitis, keratitis, episcleritis) (Ocular rosacea)
- Enlarged unshapely nose with prominent pores and fibrous thickening (Rhinophyma)
The exact cause of rosacea is unknown but flares are often triggered by caffeine, spicy foods, alcoholic drinks, sun exposure, strenuous exercise, stress, and very hot or cold temperatures.
- General measures – Avoid triggers of rosacea as listed above; avoid sun exposure; keep the face cool to reduce flushing (minimize exposure to hot or spicy foods, alcohol, hot showers and baths and warm rooms)
- Medications – Various topical agents are available for the treatment of rosacea. These include topical antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, and gels which cause vasoconstriction leading to reduction in facial redness. In severe cases, oral antibiotics are commonly used in combination with topical agents to further reduce inflammation of the skin.
- Laser treatment – Vascular lasers can be used to treat facial redness. Laser beams target capillaries within the skin, causing blood vessel walls to heat up, thereby damaging them and causing them to absorbed by the body. With a sufficient number of treatments, laser therapy may eliminate redness altogether, although periodic treatments may be necessary to remove newly formed capillaries.
- Cosmetic surgery – Rhinophyma can be treated by surgical reshaping of the nose.