HEALTH: Rosacea Info & Help

Voluntary Action Calderdale and Public Health have produced a series of articles which aim to improve the awareness and knowledge of various conditions. They recently added to the series with one about Rosacea (pronounced “roh –zay-sha”)

What is it?

Rosacea is a common and long-term skin condition that affects about 1 in 10 of the UK population. It usually affects parts of the face such as the nose, cheeks and forehead. It can also affect other areas such as the scalp, neck and ears. Very rarely it can affect the skin on the arms and back.

When rosacea first appears the face may look flushed and this appearance can come and go. Over time the redness becomes ruddier and more persistent and blood vessels can become more prominent on the face (called telangectasia). If left untreated small lumpy red spots and small cysts can appear. This can look similar to acne but is a different condition. In severe cases the nose may grow swollen and bumpy, due to thickening of the skin – this is called rhinophyma, is uncommon and mainly occurs in men.

In many cases of rosecea the eyes are also affected and may be irritated and appear watery and bloodshot. These eye symptoms can appear before any skin symptoms develop.

Rosacea is not contagious and therefore cannot be spread from one person to another person.

Who is affected?

Although about 1 in 10 people are affected, many cases are mild. Although symptoms may appear in the early 20s they typically appear after age 30. Children are rarely affected. Women are more commonly affected than men but women tend to be less severely affected. Rosacea can affect all segments of the population but is more common in fair skinned than dark skinned people.

What should I look for?

Rosacea can vary greatly in appearance from one individual to another. Rosacea is not usually painful or itchy. In some cases, however, there may be a burning feeling over the affected skinNot all the symptoms can appear. The primary signs of Rosacea always include at least one of those listed below:

Flushing
Persistent redness
Bumps and pimples
Visible blood vessels
Other potential signs and symptoms include:
Eye irritation
Burning or stinging
Dry appearance
Plaques (raised red patches)
Skin thickening
Facial swelling

What causes it/what makes it worse

The exact cause is not known but a number of factors may be involved – but none have definitely been proven to be the cause. For example:

  • Tiny blood vessels under the affected skin become abnormal and leaky
  • Sun damage
  • A tiny mite living on the skin
  • Abnormal immune reactions
  • Genetic predisposition

Whilst the cause of the condition is not clear, some lifestyle and environmental factors are believed to trigger Rosacea flare-ups and these include: sun/wind exposure; emotional stress; hot baths/beverages; alcohol consumption and heavy exercise.

Cure/Treatment

There is no permanent cure for Rosacea and there is nothing that can prevent Rosacea from starting. Treatments can ease the symptoms and these vary depending on the symptoms that develop.

In general, the treatments include oral and topical (rub-on) medications for cysts and spots, adopting an appropriate skin care routine, avoiding strong sunlight, avoiding lifestyle and environmental factors that might trigger flushing, light or laser therapy for tiny blood vessels, surgical or laser therapy to trim back thickened skin and cosmetics/camouflage creams to conceal the effects of Rosacea. Eye symptoms, if they occur, are often mild and need no treatment. However if they become serious then antibiotics and steroid drops may be required.

Sources of Support

See you GP

British Association of Dermatologists
http://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/rosacea

NHS Choices
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Rosacea/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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