Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects over three million Canadians.
The central face is the most commonly affected area.
Rosacea usually develops in adults between ages 30 and 50. It affects both men and women, although it seems to affect more women. It tends to affect people with fair skin, such as those of northern and eastern European descent (e.g. Irish, English, Scottish), although rosacea can develop in any skin type.
The first sign may be intermittent redness or blushing. Over time, the redness may become persistent and more visible. The most common sites for symptoms are the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. Sometimes rosacea may involve the eyes as well and include symptoms such as bloodshot eyes that feel gritty. More than half of rosacea sufferers may experience eye symptoms.
Bumps, tiny pus-filled pimples, and enlarged blood vessels can also appear, giving skin a rough, uneven appearance. Rosacea symptoms can vary from one person to another and severity is unpredictable. There is no known cure, but it can be managed with appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes.
Experts are not sure about specific causes of rosacea but they believe it is due to both genetic and environmental factors.
There are 4 different forms of Rosacea:
Erythemato-telangiectatic — Main symptoms are facial flushing and redness, which may not always be present. There may also be some swelling, burning and stinging, roughness, and visible red blood vessels. Papulo-pustular — This form of rosacea is marked by persistent redness and pimplelike bumps (often mistaken for acne).
Phymatous — In some individuals, rosacea may affect oil glands and connective tissue causing the skin tissue to thicken (appearing enlarged) and become bumpy. Phymatous rosacea most commonly affects the nose (rhynophyma) and can rarely affect the forehead and chin.
Ocular rosacea — In addition to skin symptoms, rosacea may affect the eyes and eyelids. It can cause redness to the surrounding skin tissue but also burning or stinging, dryness, light sensitivity, blurred vision and watery, bloodshot eyes.
Rosacea can feel worse than it looks. Like other chronic diseases, it is psychologically hard to deal with a condition that persists for many years. Many patients with rosacea feel self-conscious and embarrassed about the redness and bumps that mar the face, making it difficult to hide. They also may be negatively affected by common misconceptions about the condition, such as the belief that it is a sign of alcohol abuse or poor hygiene.
Nearly three-quarters of rosacea patients have reported low self-esteem. Similar numbers have reported that they feel the rosacea adversely affects their career opportunities. Because of the social and psychological impact, it is imperative to be diagnosed and treated for this chronic skin condition. Successfully controlling symptoms through treatment has been shown to improve the mental and emotional well-being of patients.
Triggers of Rosacea
Several lifestyle factors can cause rosacea to flare up. Some known triggers include hot/cold weather extremes, sun exposure, mental stress, and hot or spicy food and drinks. These triggers vary from person to person, so it is both important and helpful to find out which ones make your own symptoms flare-up. This knowledge can help you better manage your condition because you’re able to avoid things that may aggravate the skin.
Food and beverages - What you eat and drink can affect rosacea symptoms — especially spicy foods or hot soup and drinks. Watch for the following, and track when you eat these trigger foods/drinks to determine which ones affect you:
thermally hot drinks such as soup, hot chocolate
caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee
spicy seasonings such as white or black pepper, paprika, red pepper, cayenne alcohol, especially red wine
Sun Exposure - Exposure to UV seems to make rosacea worse, so rosacea sufferers are advised to use sunscreen with an SPF value of 30 or more daily. Try to avoid the sun at peak times, primarily between 11 am and 3 pm.
Temperature Extremes - Extremely hot or cold weather conditions, very dry or humid air, wind, and indoor heat exposure can be triggers. The key is to stay cool in hot weather, cover skin and moisturize when it is cold outdoors, and avoid hot baths, saunas, or other environmental factors that raise your body temperature.
Intense Exercise - High-intensity workouts overheat the body, which can trigger flushing. Avoiding vigorous exercise or divide it into shorter sessions. You can also find ways to stay cool while working out, such as exercising outdoors during cooler weather, or working out indoors in an air-conditioned space when it’s hot outside.
Stress -Stress is one of the most common triggers associated with rosacea flare-ups. If this is a trigger for you, seek out ways to manage emotional upset — such as getting enough sleep, deep breathing and stretching, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. Remember that too much caffeine and sugar, dehydration or skipping meals can also raise stress levels.
Medications - Extended use of prescription-strength cortisone creams on the face can precipitate rosacea flares and worsen rosacea symptoms. Topical acne treatments may also increase dryness and exacerbate rosacea. Certain medications that cause vasodilation (enlarged blood vessels) and flushing can also prompt flare-ups.
If you have questions about Rosacea, medications for Rosacea or perhaps a compound solution, speak to one of our pharmacists.