What is it?
Rosacea is a common but poorly understood long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face. It can be controlled to some degree with long-term treatment, but sometimes the changes in physical appearance can have a significant psychological impact.
What are the symptoms?
Rosacea causes a range of symptoms, although not everyone will experience them all. Most people with rosacea have periods when their symptoms are particularly troublesome, followed by periods when their symptoms are less so. The main symptoms of rosacea include:
- Persistent facial redness.
- Visible blood vessels.
- Papules and pustules.
- Thickened skin.
These are discussed in more detail below.
Other symptoms associated with rosacea include:
- Sensitive skin – burning, itching, stinging and pain.
- Dry, rough skin.
- Raised red patches (plaques) on your skin.
- Facial swelling (lymphoedema). Permanent damage to the face (scarring) almost never occurs in rosacea.
Flushing is when your skin turns red for a short period – usually a few minutes. It tends to mainly affect the face, although it can spread to your neck and chest. In some cases the redness may be accompanied by an unpleasant feeling of heat. In rosacea flushing is often caused by a certain trigger, such as sun exposure, hot drinks or exercise. See causes of rosacea for more information about possible triggers.
Persistent facial redness
Persistent facial redness (erythema) is like a blush or a patch of sunburn that doesn’t go away, or the sort of blotchy skin often associated with drinking too much alcohol. This can be upsetting for those with rosacea as people can mistakenly assume they are heavy drinkers. The redness usually affects the cheeks, nose and chin, but may spread to other areas, such as the forehead, neck and chest.
Visible blood vessels
Over time the blood vessels in the skin may become permanently widened (dilated) and visible. The medical name for visible blood vessels is telangiectasia.
Papules and pustules
If you have rosacea, you may develop round red bumps that rise from your skin (papules) and pus-filled swellings (pustules). These spots appear on your face and are similar to acne. Rosacea used to be called acne rosacea, but the 2 conditions are quite different. In rosacea there are no blackheads and the skin is not greasy, but dry and peeling. Rosacea spots also don’t cause scarring.
In the most serious cases of rosacea the skin can thicken and form excess tissue, usually around the nose. This causes the nose to take on a large, bulbous appearance (rhinophyma). Rhinophyma is an uncommon, severe symptom of rosacea and takes several years to develop. It almost exclusively affects men.
What to expect?
If you are diagnosed with rosacea, you can consider discussing the following subjects with your doctor after the initial treatment:
- Patients with rosacea are medically managed depending on the signs and symptoms you are experiencing. What treatment options do you recommend?
- Some patients may have other medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension. How can you manage them together?
- Patient with rosacea may feel embarrassed and anxious about their appearance and can be self-conscious. Discuss with your GP, how you can overcome this?
In addition to treatment by your doctor, you can try the following things:
- Protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun bu using broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- Treat your skin gently by nor rubbing it rigorously and avoid using alcohol based or irritants in your skin.