Rosacea

Pronounced: rose-AY-sha

Definition

Rosacea is a common, long-term skin disorder. It causes flushing and redness of the face. It can also cause a rash or small red lesions that look like acne.

Ocular rosacea affects the eyes. It makes them red and irritated.

Rosacea Rash

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Causes    TOP

The cause of rosacea is unknown. There may be a change in genes for some with rosacea.

Rosacea symptoms may be set off by:

  • Very hot or spicy foods
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sun exposure
  • Extreme temperatures (very hot or very cold)
  • Exercise
  • Emotional stress or social embarrassment
  • Rubbing, scrubbing, or massaging the face
  • Irritating cosmetics and other toiletries

Risk Factors    TOP

Rosacea is more common in women between 30 and 50 years old. Other factors that may increase the chances of rosacea:

  • A family history of rosacea
  • Having fair skin
  • Being of European descent

Symptoms    TOP

Frequent flushing of the face and persistent redness are most common symptoms. Other symptoms can be different from person to person:

  • Symptoms of the face, ears, chest, and back:
    • Broken blood vessels
    • Swelling
    • Stinging and burning skin
    • Dry, oily, or rough skin
    • Acne-like pimples
    • Raised patches of skin
    • Thickened skin (rare)
  • Symptoms in the eyes:
    • Redness and tearing
    • Burning, itching, and dryness
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Blurred vision

Diagnosis    TOP

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a doctor who focuses on skin disorders.

Treatment    TOP

There is no cure for rosacea. Treatment will help to manage symptoms. Treatment options include:

Skin Care

The first step is to identify triggers. They can vary from person to person. Avoiding triggers can stop symptoms.

Keeping skin healthy will also decrease risk of irritation. This includes basic care such as:

  • Using moisturizer
  • Sun protection with sunscreen with SPF of 30 or greater
  • Washing with mild soap
  • Exercise in a cool environment

Medicine

Medicine may help to calm symptoms that do appear. Prescription medicine options include:

  • Antibiotics or anti—parasitics pills or lotions
  • Medicated creams or gels—to help manage acne
  • Medicated creams or gels—to help shrink blood vessels near surface of skin and decrease redness
  • Eye drops—to increase tear production (ocular rosacea)
  • Acne pills—for severe rosacea

Surgery    TOP

Surgery may help if other treatment has not worked. It can help to decrease redness and manage enlarged blood vessels. Options include:

  • Intense pulsed light therapy
  • Laser therapy

Prevention    TOP

There are no steps to prevent rosacea.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
https://www.aad.org
National Rosacea Society
https://www.rosacea.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Dermatology Association
https://www.dermatology.ca

References:

Gallo RL, Granstein RD, Kang S, et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018 Jan;78(1):148-155
Rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/rosacea. Accessed September 25, 2018.
Rosacea. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116224/Rosacea. Updated September 24, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.
Rosacea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/rosacea. Updated August 27, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.
Rosacea. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/rosacea. Updated April 30, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2018.
van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Carter B, van der Linden MM, Charland L. Interventions for rosacea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(4):CD003262.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 3/6/2018

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