What is Rosacea
Classically, rosacea initially presents with “flush-blush” flare-ups and remissions, with breakouts predicted by exposure to “triggers”. There are many triggers of rosacea, but the most common are: sun exposure, emotional stress, hot weather, wind, heavy exercise, alcohol consumption, cold weather, spicy foods, humidity, indoor hear, menopause, and certain skin care products, foods or medications. The earliest features of rosacea are a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people. With time, the condition tends to worsen, and people with rosacea may see permanent redness (“ruddiness”) to the face, areas of oil gland enlargement, bumps and pustular acne-like lesions, skin thickening and enlargement of the nose, and irritation/burning and redness of the eyes and eyelids. The redness of rosacea can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead, chin, neck and chest.
As with many skin conditions, rosacea is predominantly a genetic condition, seen most often in those with fair skin, although any skin type is prone. When I counsel patients, I liken the disease to a train, with medical treatments modifying the speed or locale of the train. Topical and oral medications can slow the train, while destructive vessel treatments, such as laser treatments, can bring the train to an earlier station. Because the condition is genetically based, it cannot be “cured”, i.e., the train cannot be stopped entirely.
There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about rosacea and many people suffer unnecessarily. It is advisable to consult a dermatologist, to make sure that you indeed have rosacea, learn what subtype (or subtypes) you have, and get an individualized treatment plan. Your treatment plan will include an appropriate skin care regimen that is tailored to your needs. Getting proper rosacea treatment is important to ease discomfort, improve self-esteem, and stop the rosacea from getting worse. Many people find that with proper treatment, others cannot even tell they have rosacea.
Ten Key Features of Rosacea Management
- Be patient! – Rosacea can be slow to respond to medications.
- Follow the program! Rosacea programs vary per individual and finding the best combination therapy to bring the condition under control may take some time and testing different regimens- seek advice only from those expert in managing this condition.
- Recognize rosacea is variable! Different types of rosacea may require different medication programs.
- Be consistent! Rosacea is a chronic problem, and responds best if the skin care regimen recommended is followed faithfully as recommended.
- Be aware! Rosacea can change forms over time naturally; sudden worsening may be brought on by very stressful events such as a divorce, or major illness.
- Get educated! Genetics plays the biggest role in rosacea presentation, with MANY triggers, which have different effects on different individuals. Seek advice from experts familiar with the disease, and be easy with yourself as you navigate through the possible triggers for your disease, and determine what you may or may not be able to modify.
- News flash! Many laser treatments, such as intense pulse light (IPL) can help your skin care regimen for managing acne and lead to optimal results..
- Be easy on yourself! Rosacea has an enormous psychological impact- at any age! It is important to remember, there are experts to help you, and there are many treatments for rosacea.
- Be gentle! Use a gentle facial cleanser and don’t scrub; harsh soaps or practices may aggravate rosacea and stimulate oil glands
- Do your best! Try not to pick, use your sunscreens, strive to minimize your rosacea “triggers” and follow the skin care regimen recommended by your dermatologist.