Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that most commonly causes facial redness and swelling. However, it can also affect the scalp, neck, and ears, and nearly half of all patients suffering from rosacea report eye symptoms (ocular rosacea). It is often characterized by flare-ups and remissions. Rosacea can affect all skin types and segments of the population. Although individuals with fair skin are believed to be at greater risk, individuals with family history of rosacea are as well.
One of the first rosacea symptoms you may notice is a tendency to flush or blush easily. The condition can then progress to persistent redness, pimples, and visible, threadlike blood vessels (telangiectasias) that begin in the center of the face but can eventually spread to the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose. Rosacea occurs most commonly in people 30 to 50 years of age, and although women are more likely to have rosacea, men tend to suffer more severe forms.
Types of Rosacea
All forms of rosacea have three things in common–they affect mostly the face, cause red bumps, and have no known cure. Though different types of rosacea can occur in conjunction with one another, they are divided into four categories based on symptoms.
Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea (ETR)
ETR is the most common form of rosacea and is typically characterized by red or flushed cheeks and face. The skin may also feel a bit swollen or rough.
Papulopustular (Acne) Rosacea
Papulopustular rosacea is characterized by acne-like outbreaks of pimples and bumps. The skin will commonly be red, swollen, and oily.
Individuals with phymatous rosacea will experience a thickening of the skin in areas around the nose, chin, forehead, and cheeks. In a lot of cases, patients with phymatous rosacea develop a related condition called rhinophyma. Over time, rosacea can thicken the skin on the nose, making it appear bulbous. This occurs more often in men than women.
Ocular rosacea affects the eyes and eyelids. It causes them to be dry, itchy, bloodshot, sensitive, and in some cases can cause blurred vision. Small pimples, called styes, may also form on the eyelids.
Although there is no cure for rosacea, a variety of treatments are available to reduce its appearance and prevent further progression, especially when started early. If allowed to worsen over a long period, however, rosacea may become more difficult to treat, and it could take longer to see positive results. Treatments for rosacea include oral and topical medications, lifestyle modifications, laser and light therapies, and surgical procedures for advanced cases. For ocular rosacea, treatments include steroid eye drops and artificial tears. Our Alaska Center for Dermatology Providers may prescribe these treatments individually or in combination, depending on your specific case. Schedule an appointment with one of the Board-Certified Dermatologists to discuss your rosacea and recommended treatment plans.