Rosacea is a common skin disorder that can occur at any age but starts most commonly in fair skinned people of celtic ancestry in their 30s and 40s. It very rarely affects children.
The first symptoms noticed is a tendency to blush which becomes more frequent and noticeable. Eventually the redness becomes constant and just changes in intensity. The nose and cheeks are most commonly affected, but it can affect the whole face, ears and neck.
On this background of redness, dilated capillaries can start to appear and is seen as a fine red pattern just below the skin surface. Red bumps that appear like acne lesions can also appear. The skin becomes more sensitive and oily.
Advanced rosacea can affect the eyes causing dryness and inflammation. This conjunctivitis will require referral to an opthalmologist as it can affect eyesight. Another complication of rosacea is irregular thickening of the nose in men. This deformed potato nose is called rhinophyma and can be remodelled with surgery or carbon dioxide laser.
The precise cause of rosacea is uncertain despite various theories to explain the origin. Triggers like alcohol or sunlight can aggravate rosacea but there is no evidence that these factors are the primary cause of the problem.
Rosacea cannot be cured but it can be controlled with avoiding the triggers that make it worse. Skincare products that cause stinging, burning and irritation should also be avoided. Medical treatment involves oral and topical antibiotics that suppress rather than cure the rosacea. Persistent redness and broken capillaries respond effectively to a series of broad band light or vascular laser treatments.
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