It’s easy to mistake rosacea for other kinds of rashes. The characteristic flushed skin, bumps and thick patches of skin can look like many other skin conditions. Learn how to identify rosacea so you can get the proper treatment and relief for your skin.
Rosacea is a chronic condition that predominantly affects the skin in the middle of the face. The National Rosacea Society reports that approximately 16 million Americans suffer from active rosacea and 415 million have rosacea worldwide. Most rosacea sufferers are middle-aged, Caucasian women, although people of all skin types and genders can have rosacea. Women with fair skin and of Northern European descent are also more likely to have rosacea. While women are more likely to have rosacea, men who have rosacea tend to develop more severe symptoms than women with rosacea. Usually rosacea first appears after the age of 30, showing up as frequent blushing or flushing in the face. Eventually, the redness increases, with blood vessels becoming visible. Without treatment, the skin can develop acne-like bumps and pimples, thickened and bumpy patches of skin (especially on the nose) and irritation of and around the eyes. Typically, rosacea sufferers experience cycles of flare-ups and remissions that can be influenced by certain environmental, dietary and behavioral triggers. Many rosacea sufferers also experience psychological effects from their skin condition, struggling with social anxiety, depression and lower self-confidence.
One way to figure out if you have rosacea is to see if your symptoms fit in with one of the four subtypes of rosacea that scientists have identified. Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea (ETR) is the most common type of rosacea. The common symptoms of ETR include: flushing/blushing easily; redness in the middle of the face; broken blood vessels on the face (spider veins); dry, rough or peeling skin; skin sensitivity, swelling or itching. The second subtype is acne-type breakouts. These breakouts are characterized by small, red bumps or pus-filled pimples, as well as oily skin and the appearance of spider veins. Unlike acne, you won’t see blackheads on your skin or large cysts or nodules under the skin. Similar to ETR, the skin may also itch, sting, and be sensitive. The affected area can also develop plaques, or raised areas of hardened skin. Rhinophyma is another subtype of rosacea. This type is not common and usually appears after other more common rosacea symptoms are experienced. Rhinophyma is the thickening of the skin, usually on the nose. The excess tissue can also form on the chin, cheeks, ears and forehead. The skin may also look bumpy and have excess oil and the presence of spider veins. In severe cases, the thickened skin can cause difficulty with breathing. The final subtype is ocular rosacea, or rosacea that affects the eyes. A person affected by ocular rosacea will experience eye irritation, including itching, stinging, swelling, watering and burning. It is common for people with ocular rosacea to get styes or cysts on the eyelids, as well as crust and broken blood vessels that form on the eyelids.
The good news is that there are a variety of ways to treat rosacea. Your dermatologist will work with you to tailor treatment based on the type(s) of rosacea you have. There are many oral and topical medications you can take to reduce inflammation and redness, clear up the pimples and sores from acne-type rosacea, and ease discomfort from skin irritation. Some of these rosacea medications include rosacea cream, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Light therapy is another method of treating rosacea, especially helpful for rhinophyma and reducing visible spider veins. If you have ocular rosacea, you may be referred to an eye specialist. You will work with your dermatologists to create a good skin care regimen and to identify rosacea triggers for your flare-ups. Common flare-ups include cold or hot air on your face, exposure to sunlight, certain cosmetic products, stress, alcohol and stress. Good care for your skin includes lowering sun exposure and wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, gently cleansing your skin, applying moisturizers and finding cosmetic products that don’t cause rosacea flare-ups.
The best way to determine if you have rosacea and to get proper treatment is to work with a dermatologist. Call Vanguard Dermatology in the greater New York City area to schedule an appointment with one of their experienced and board-certified dermatologists so they can advise you on the best rosacea treatment for your symptoms.