Rosacea is a skin condition that causes a blushing or flushing of the face (usually in the center) and visible spider veins (small broken blood vessels) on the nose and cheeks. Other symptoms can include pimples that resemble acne that may be pus-filled, a tender, hot sensation in the affected area, an enlarged, bulbous looking nose due to thickened skin (mostly seen in men), and ocular rosacea which causes swollen eyes and eyelids, and dry, irritated eyes. It is not a contagious condition and is not due to improper personal hygiene. Rosacea most commonly affects middle-aged white women and is more noticeable on lighter skin. It typically comes in cycles, flaring up at times and gradually disappearing, but recurrence is common.
There is no cure for rosacea and its cause is unknown. However, it is believed to be due to a combination of heredity, an overactive immune system, and environmental factors. Some environmental triggers are sun or wind exposure, extreme temperatures, alcohol consumption, smoking, spicy foods, hot beverages, drugs that dilate blood vessels, exercise, and certain skin and hair products. One of the best ways to control outbreaks is to pay attention to and identify one’s personal triggers and avoid them. Other self-care measures include using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, covering the face with a scarf in cold, windy weather, using a non-soap gentle cleanser twice a day and moisturizing after, and avoiding products with perfumes, alcohol, urea, menthol, or camphor.
Treatment usually will consist of quality skin care along with medication to control the symptoms of rosacea. The types of medications prescribe will be based on the types of symptoms and the severity of the condition. Some drugs like brimonidine or oxymetazoline that constrict blood vessels may be used to reduce flushing in mild to moderate cases. To control pimples, azelaic acid, metronidazole, or ivermectin could be prescribed. In moderate to severe rosacea, oral antibiotics like doxycycline may be necessary, and in severe, nonresponsive cases, the acne medication isotretinoin can help clear up acne-like lesions.