Victoria, BC

Tillicum Medical Clinic

Rosacea

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Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness and pimples on your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. The redness may come and go. People sometimes call rosacea "adult acne" because it can cause outbreaks that look like acne. It can also cause burning and soreness in the eyes and eyelids.

Experts are not sure what causes rosacea. It tends to affect people who have fair skin or blush easily, and it seems to run in families. Rosacea is not caused by alcohol abuse, as people thought in the past. But in people who have rosacea, drinking alcohol may cause symptoms to flare.

Rosacea often flares when something causes the blood vessels in the face to expand, which causes redness. Things that cause a flare-up are called triggers. Common triggers include:

  • Exercise
  • Sun
  • Wind exposure
  • Hot weather
  • Stress
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Hot baths
  • Swings in temperature from hot to cold or cold to hot

People with rosacea may have:

  • A flushed face and pimples or bumps on or around the cheeks, nose, mouth, and forehead. Sometimes the flushing or redness can last for days.
  • Tiny red veins on the face that look like spiderwebs.
  • Burning or stinging facial skin, especially when they apply lotions or medicines. The face may feel increasingly dry, sensitive, or sunburned.
  • Dry, red, irritated eyes. The eyelids may look red and swollen, and vision may be blurry. If it is not treated, rosacea can cause serious eye problems.

Without treatment, some cases of rosacea can cause knobby bumps on the nose and cheeks that can multiply. This is advanced rosacea, known as rhinophyma. Over time, it can give the nose a swollen, waxy look. But most cases of rosacea don't progress this far.

Rosacea can be embarrassing. And if it is untreated, it can get worse. If the symptoms bother you, see your doctor and learn ways to control rosacea.

There are some things you can do to reduce symptoms and keep rosacea from getting worse.

  • Find your triggers. One of the most important things is to learn what triggers your flare-ups, and then avoid them. It can help to keep a diary of what you were eating, drinking, and doing on days that the rosacea appeared. Take the diary to your next doctor visit, and discuss what you can do to help control the disease.
  • Use sunscreen every day. Pick a sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher that blocks ultraviolet light (UVA and UVB) and infrared rays. During winter, use a moisturizer to prevent dryness caused by cold and wind.
  • Be gentle with your skin. Use skin care products for sensitive skin, and avoid any products that scratch or irritate your skin. Try not to rub or scrub your skin.
  • Take care of your eyes. Gently wash your eyelids with a product made for the eyes. Apply a warm, wet cloth several times a day. Use artificial tears if your eyes feel dry.

Doctors can prescribe medicines and other treatments for rosacea. There is no cure, but with treatment, most people can control their symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse.

  • Antibiotic creams or pills may be used to treat redness and pimples. Antibiotic pills may also help treat eye problems. Women who are pregnant should not use some antibiotic creams or pills. If you use antibiotics, be patient. It can take a month or two before you start to see improvement.

  • Stronger medicines may be tried if antibiotics don't control your rosacea. Examples include isotretinoin (Accutane) or tretinoin cream (Retin-A). You cannot use these if you are pregnant or might become pregnant.

  • Surgery or other treatments may help your skin look better if you have advanced rosacea. Choices may include dermabrasion, cryosurgery, or laser surgery.