Rosacea affects about 10% of Americans. Women are more frequently affected than men. Fair-skinned individuals with blond hair and blue eyes, from a Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry, with a family history of rosacea or acne are at risk. Rosacea can be controlled successfully with lifestyle changes, and certain treatments.

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a common chronic skin disease that affects the quality of life of a person with this condition. Symptoms includes facial redness, papules, pustules, visible broken blood vessels (Telangiectasias), flushing and swelling in the center of the face. Flareups can spread redness from the nose to the cheeks, forehead and chin. It can also affect the eyes, ears, chest, neck, shoulders and upper back. Rosacea causes extremely sensitive skin. Over time the redness in the center of the face can become permanent.

What causes Rosacea?

The cause is not known but it is an immune system disorder that also involves changes in the nervous system and the vascular system. Microbes that are a normal part of the skin flora called Dermodex mites may also play a role as triggers of rosacea.

There are four types of rosacea

  1. Redness and flushing with visible blood vessels. Symptoms: Visible broken spider veins; swollen and sensitive skin; dry, rough and scaly skin, and skin that stings and burns.
  2. Redness, swelling and acne like lesions. Symptoms: Acne-like lesions where the skin is red; breakouts that come and go; sensitive skin, oily skin, skin that burns and stings; visible broken spider veins and raised areas of skin called plaques.
  3. Thickened skin that has a bumpy texture and enlarged pores. Symptoms: roughly textured skin; skin that thickens on the nose, forehead, cheeks, chin and ears; enlarged pores; visible broken blood vessels, and oily skin.
  4. Ocular Rosacea affects the eyes causing redness and irritation, swollen eyelids, and whitish lesions. Symptoms: watery and congested eyes; dry eyes that burn, sting and feel gritty; sensitivity to light; blurry vision; visible broken blood vessels on the eyelids, cysts on the eyelids and impaired vision.

What are the common signs and symptoms?

  • Redness across the nose and cheeks, which can spread to the chin, forehead, or ears
  • Acne-like breakouts
  • Skin that feels sore and is easily irritated
  • Thin, reddish-purple veins
  • Dry, itchy, and irritated eyes or gritty feeling

How is Rosacea diagnosed?

Rosacea is diagnosed by your history of signs and symptoms. Prepare for your consultation by making a list of your signs and symptoms and the triggers you have noticed that worsen your condition. At your consultation, Dr. Pantea Hashemi will examine your skin and eyes, review your history, ask you questions, and rule out other conditions that can look like rosacea.

What are the treatment options?

The goal of treatment is to control symptoms, reduce or eliminate flareups which aggravate the condition, relieve discomfort and prevent worsening of the condition. Although there is no cure for rosacea, treatment often controls the disease. Research shows that the most effective results come from combining treatments and tailoring treatment to a patient’s signs and symptoms.

Many people who treat their rosacea say that treatment improves their quality of life. They feel less self-conscious. Another benefit of treatment is that it can prevent rosacea from getting worse.

  • Acne like breakouts can be treated with topical medications. It usually takes up to two months of treatment with topical medication to see noticeable improvement.
  • Sometimes you need an oral antibiotic to clear the acne-like breakouts. Your dermatologist may recommend a newer medicine that treats the inflammation without the side effects of high-dose antibiotics.
  • Redness can be reduced with IPL treatments.
  • Laser surgery or a procedure called electrodessication, which uses small electric needles, can help diminish the appearance of small veins.
  • To treat thickening skin, a dermatologist may remove the excess skin with a scalpel, laser, or electrosurgery.

Controlling your rosacea

Identifying your triggers can help to control flare-ups. Common triggers include spicy foods, hot temperature drinks, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages.

Protect your skin from the sun. Seek shade when possible, limit exposure to sunlight, and wear sun protective clothing. Apply a broad-spectrum (sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher to your face every day before you go outside. Look for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these ingredients are the least irritating to skin with rosacea. When outdoors, be sure to reapply the sunscreen every two hours.

Don’t overheat or exposure your skin to very cold temperatures. Overheating may cause your rosacea to flare. Exercising in a cool environment can help. You can protect your face from cold and wind with a scarf or ski mask that does not irritate your skin.

Keep your skin routine simple. Fewer products are better. Avoid cosmetics and skin care products that contain alcohol. Avoid rubbing, scrubbing, or massaging you face.

If you use hair spray, shield your face so that the spray does not get on your face.

Dr. Hashemi, a board-certified dermatologist in Sacramento, offers compassionate professional care to all her patients. Contact Dr. Hashemi at the University Skin Institute to schedule a consultation and receive the correct diagnosis and treatment options.