Could you have rosacea and not know it?

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Could you have rosacea and not know it?

If you have rosacea, you share a skin condition with some of the world’s most famous people – W.C. Fields, Princess Diana and Prince William, former president Bill Clinton, Cameron Diaz, Rosie O’Donnell, Mariah Carey, and even Rembrandt.  Rosacea affects up to 16 million Americans have and yet 95% of them will not realize they have it.  Typically making its appearance after the age of 30, rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can make one’s face red or flush.

As the years go by, the redness of rosacea can become ruddier and more persistent as visible blood vessels may appear. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop and in severe cases, the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue.  This is the condition (rhinophyma) W.C. Fields had due to his trademark bulbous nose. 

Rosacea can affect all segments of the population but those most affected are individuals with fair skin who tend to blush or flush easily. It is also more frequently diagnosed in women but more severe cases are seen in men – possibly because they often delay seeking help until the disorder reaches advanced stages.

What signs to look for

Rosacea can vary from person to person.  How it affects one individual may be different from another.  However, rosacea always includes at least one of the following primary signs and various secondary signs and symptoms:

·      Flushing – Many people with rosacea have a history of frequent blushing or flushing.  This facial redness may come and go and is often the earliest sign of the disorder.

·      Persistent redness – Persistent redness is the most common individual sign of rosacea and may resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.

·      Bumps and pimples – Small, red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples often develop.  While these may resemble acne, blackheads are absent and burning or stinging may occur.

·      Visible blood vessels – In many people with rosacea, small blood vessels become visible on the face.

Other persistent signs and symptoms or rosacea include:

·      Eye irritation – For some people with rosacea, the eyes may be irritated and appear watery or bloodshot.  This is known as ocular rosacea.  The eyelids may become red and swollen and styes of the eye are common. 

·      Burning or stinging – These two symptoms may often occur on the face. Also itching or a feeling of tightness may be present.

·      Dry appearance – The central facial skin may be rough and with a very dry appearance.

·      Plaques – Raised red patches known as plaques may develop without changes in surrounding skin.

·      Skin thickening – A condition called rhinophyma, affecting more men than women, is when the skin may thicken and enlarge from excess tissue usually on the nose.

Causes of rosacea

Genetics appears to be a big part of the blame for rosacea.  It can be hereditary with women more likely to have it than men.  Everyone is different but common things may aggravate or bring on rosacea such as exposure to sunlight or excessive heat, wind, or cold and certain makeup or skin-care products. Other triggers for rosacea may include alcohol, exercise, spicy foods, hot drinks, hot baths, and emotional stress.

When to see a doctor

As soon as you notice any abnormal skin issue that’s painful, itchiness, redness, or dryness that is not going away after a few days, see a dermatologist.  Getting it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible can greatly reduce further damage to the skin and get you on a path to keeping the condition under control. 

How is rosacea treated?

The typical treatments most dermatologists recommend are antibiotics or topical creams.  A topical cream can address any bumps and breakouts and can help reduce redness.  Antibiotics can soothe irritation since they are anti-inflammatory.  However, there is no cure for rosacea – the treatments are simply a way to manage your symptoms. 

To remove visible blood vessels, reduce extensive redness or correct disfigurement of the nose, treatments with lases, intense pulsed light sources or other medical and surgical devises may be appropriate.

At home, cleanse your skin twice daily with a very gentle cleanser that doesn’t contain soap.  Follow it up with a moisturizer that has hyaluronic acid and use non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) makeup.  At night, always remove all makeup and gently wash your face without scrubbing it.