Rosacea is an extremely common chronic inflammatory condition affecting more than 14 million people nationwide. While women are more likely to get the disorder, men are also at risk and often have more severe cases, leaving many people looking for answers about the signs and symptoms of rosacea and ways to treat it.
The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, but there are several factors scientists have discovered that might play a role in the development of the condition. They include a naturally occurring protein, Demodex mites, and a “faulty” immune system. Rosacea also appears to run in families, leading scientists to believe the condition may be hereditary.
Types of Rosacea and Their Symptoms
Rosacea affects everyone differently, presenting a variety of signs and symptoms unique to each individual case. Doctors have divided the condition into four subtypes. Your course of treatment will vary based on your diagnosis.
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea – a common type of rosacea categorized by persistent redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels.
- Papulopustular rosacea – papulopustular, like erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, also presents with redness but it is accompanied by swelling and acne-like breakouts.
- Phymatous rosacea – those with phymatous rosacea experience thickening of their skin alongside a bumpy texture.
- Ocular rosacea – rosacea doesn’t just appear on the face; it can manifest in the eyes as well. Those with ocular rosacea may suffer from chronically irritated, red eyes and swollen eyelids.
What Treatment Options are Available for Rosacea?
Rosacea can’t be completely cured but there are treatments available and lifestyle changes you can make to help manage the signs and symptoms of the condition. Although a cure isn’t available, you should work towards treating your symptoms and finding your triggers as soon as you have a concrete diagnosis. Without treatment, rosacea can, and most likely will get worse.
Treatment of Rosacea
Medication – Topicals, such as metronidazole, azelaic acid, brimonidine, and tretinoin address the inflammation and redness. Oral antibiotics, such as Accutane, erythromycin, and minocycline may also be used in conjunction with topicals to aid in reducing inflammation and bacteria.
Those with ocular rosacea may also benefit from tetracyclines, which assist with blurred vision, dryness, itching, and light sensitivity. Steroid eye drops are also a common treatment option.
- Laser Treatment – If you have visible blood vessels, laser treatments may be the answer. Lasers utilize pulsing light to shrink the blood vessels that are near the surface of the skin, diminishing their appearance and lessening redness.
- Red LED Light – Red LED light treatments are used for several conditions, including fine lines, rosacea, and sun-damaged skin. The light minimizes the appearance of broken capillaries and has the added benefit of rejuvenating the skin.
- Plastic Surgery – If you have thickened skin, a carbon dioxide laser and scalpel surgery can be used to remove the excess tissue.
Something you use or do in your everyday life may be triggering your rosacea. Keep a journal and use it to track activities that were done before a flare-up occurred. Common triggers include extreme changes in temperature, spicy food, make-up, and even exercise.
Sun protection is a necessary step in everyone’s skin routine, but this is especially true if you are dealing with rosacea. Not only is sunlight a potential trigger, but rosacea-prone skin is often more sensitive to sunlight.
Use sunscreen daily and avoid midday sun whenever possible. Utilize protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
You may have to tweak your skin care routine as the ingredients found in your current regimen may be irritating your sensitive skin. Look for mild, rosacea friendly products to replace harsh cleansers, complicated moisturizers, and rough exfoliants.