What Exactly is Rosacea, What are Its Symptoms?


Rosacea is a chronic (long-term) disease that affects the skin and sometimes the eyes.

The disorder is characterized by redness, pimples, and, in advanced stages, thickened skin.

Rosacea usually affects the face. Skin on other parts of the upper body is only rarely involved.

What Does Rosacea Look Like?

There are several symptoms and conditions associated with rosacea. These include frequent flushing, vascular rosacea, inflammatory rosacea, and several other conditions involving the skin, eyes, and nose.

Frequent flushing of the center of the face, which may include the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin, occurs in the earliest stage of rosacea. The flushing often is accompanied by a burning sensation, particularly when creams or cosmetics are applied to the face. Sometimes the face is swollen slightly.

A condition called vascular rosacea causes persistent flushing and redness. Blood vessels under the skin of the face may dilate (enlarge), showing through the skin as small red lines. This is called telangiectasia (tel-AN-je-ek-tay-ze-ah). The affected skin may be swollen slightly and feel warm.

A condition called inflammatory rosacea causes persistent redness and papules (pink bumps) and pustules (bumps containing pus) on the skin. Eye inflammation and sensitivity as well as telangiectasia also may occur.

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In the most advanced stage of rosacea, the skin becomes a deep shade of red and inflammation of the eye is more apparent. Numerous telangiectases are often present, and nodules in the skin may become painful.

A condition called rhinophyma also may develop in some men; it is rare in women.

Rhinophyma is characterized by an enlarged, bulbous, and red nose resulting from enlargement of the sebaceous (oil-producing) glands beneath the surface of the skin on the nose.

People who have rosacea also may develop a thickening of the skin on the forehead, chin, cheeks, or other areas.

What Causes Rosacea?

rosacea cartoon

Doctors do not know the exact cause of rosacea but believe that some people may inherit a tendency to develop the disorder.

People who blush frequently may be more likely to develop rosacea.

Some researchers believe that rosacea is a disorder where blood vessels dilate too easily, resulting in flushing and redness.

Factors that cause rosacea to flare up in one person may have no effect on another person.

Although the following factors have not been well-researched, some people claim that one or more of them have aggravated their rosacea:

  • heat (including hot baths)
  • strenuous exercise
  • sunlight
  • wind
  • very cold temperatures
  • hot or spicy foods and drinks
  • alcohol consumption
  • menopause
  • emotional stress
  • and long-term use of topical steroids on the face

Patients affected by pustules may assume they are caused by bacteria, but researchers have not established a link between rosacea and bacteria or other organisms on the skin, in the hair follicles, or elsewhere in the body.

Early Dermatology Treatment Recommended

The best advice for anyone who thinks that he or she may have rosacea is to see a dermatologist as soon as possible to determine whether or not they actually have the condition.

Early professional diagnosis and treatment can control the signs and symptoms of rosacea so that it is usually not visible or uncomfortable and may also stop rosacea from progressing.

Rosacea skin care routine involves usage of a gentle cleanser each morning. Avoid using grainy or abrasive cleansers. Loofahs and brushes must not be used for rosacea skin care. Rinse the face with lukewarm water often and pat dry with a cotton towel.

Rosacea skin care includes use of a good sunscreen and preferably reduced exposure to sunlight itself. Water-based sunscreen and makeup is recommended for those suffering from rosacea.

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