Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that affects mainly the face. Some involve the eyes and the eyelids, and is sometimes called ocular rosacea.
Anyone can develop rosacea, although those over 30 years old are most prone. It is also more common in those with fair skin and light eye color. Often, there is also a family history of rosacea.
Rosacea usually begins in young adults, in most cases. It often starts as a flushing (redness) of the cheeks, nose and chin that comes and goes from time to time.
Later, this redness becomes permanent and fine blood vessels begin to show in the areas of redness. Later, this redness becomes thicker and more noticeable with time, especially if there is no treatment done. It can become purple sometime later.
There are other signs of rosacea that shows up on the face of the victim. These include papules (bumps), pustules, and nodules. All these tend to come and go with time.
The others like the sebaceous hyperplasias (yellowish bumps) and sebaceous hypertrophy (skin thickening, usually at the nose caused by enlarging sebaceous glands) become permanent.
As of today, the cause of rosacea is still not known. Consequently, there is still no cure in sight. At the moment, doctors are simply at work in managing the disease.
However, a number of factors are now known to aggravate rosacea. Doctors advised that avoiding these factors will improve the conditions of the symptoms of the disease.
Some of the triggering factors of rosacea include sun exposure, caffeine, alcohol, hot and spicy foods, and stress. However, the effect of these factors varies from patient to patient.
One patient may find that exposure to the sun triggers an attack of more pustules on the face, while another might find the same attack happens if he eats some spicy food. Still others are not affected at all.
The inflammatory part of rosacea (papules, pustules, nodules) is treated with topical agents that contain very mild topical steroids. Oral antibiotic tetracycline is also used to control some parts of rosacea.
Strong steroids are avoided because they tend to worsen the symptoms. Sebaceous hyperplasias are treated with light electric needle or a laser treatment.
With the development of laser, the treatment of the vascular part of rosacea (redness and appearance of blood vessels) has been revolutionized. The lasers selectively damage the abnormal vessels and improve the patient's appearance.
Most patients need multiple treatments with gradual improvements after each session. This is because each patient is different. However, there is an average of 3 treatments needed for the first year, with 1 or 2 treatments every year thereafter.
The red coloration and the abnormal blood vessels do not go away completely but conditions stop at getting worse. There are, however, significant improvements for all the patients.
During treatment periods, patients are to avoid drugs like coumadin, aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E and some others. (All these have an effect on clotting.) Treatments do cause some discomfort but is tolerated well by most patients.
Rosacea may not be eradicated at the moment, but its symptoms can be managed well.