Rosacea is a chronic skin disorder that often starts as redness on the cheeks, chin, forehead or around the nose. As time passes, bumps or pimples may erupt and in more severe cases thickening may occur around the nose. Facial burning, stinging and itching are common complaints. There may be flare-ups and remissions but over time facial skin tends to become ruddier and develop more dilated blood vessels.
The National Rosacea organization estimates that over 16 million Americans suffer from this embarrassing disease and most are unaware they have it. In fact a Gallup survey found that 78 percent of people do not even know the condition exists. According to Pubmed.heath, people with fair skin and those who blush more easily are most at risk of developing rosacea. It typically affects women more than men and is more common in those aged 30 to 50.
The exact cause of rosacea is unknown and there is no cure. Some doctors speculate that it is part of a vascular condition since flushing and redness occur. Others think it has nervous system components because it is aggravated by stress.
A different hypothesis involves the finding of excess microscopic mites called Demodex folliculorum on the skin of those with rosacea. These mites act to consume excess cast-off skin but how they are specifically involved in rosasea is unclear. Excess levels of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori have also been suspected as another potential cause as it causes gastrin levels to be elevated which can contribute to flushing.
There are known triggers that may aggravate rosacea. According to Webmed.com, “Common triggers are exercise, sun and wind exposure, hot weather, stress, spicy foods, alcohol, and hot baths. Swings in temperature from hot to cold or cold to hot can also cause a flare-up of rosacea”
Rosasea is classified into 4 subtypes, which are diagnosed by doctor during a physical exam:
1. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: Facial flushing, redness and visible blood vessels are seen.
2. Papulopustular rosacea: Persistent redness and bumps or pimples appear.
3. Phymatous rosacea: This causes the appearance of thickened skin that enlarges the nose with excess tissue. It is less common than other types.
4. Ocular rosacea: This results in eye involvement with dryness, tearing, swelling and corneal damage that may evolve into vision loss.
A person may not progress from one type to another however, within each subtype a person may have symptoms that range from mild to moderate. Early diagnosis will help determine a treatment plan that may help control rosacea. See my next article on “Treatments for Rosacea” to learn more.
What is Rosacea? SkinCarePhysicians.com Web. 14 Aug. 2011.
What Is Rosacea? National Rosacea Society. Web. 14 Aug. 2011.
Rosacea. PubMed Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information.Web. 14 Aug. 2011.
All About Rosacea. National Rosacea Society. Web. 14 Aug. 2011.
Understanding Rosacea. National Rosacea Society. Web. 14 Aug. 2011.
Rosacea - Topic Overview. WebMD. Web. 14 Aug. 2011.
Edited by Jody Smith
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles