Rosacea: Symptoms, Triggers, & Treatment

If your skin gets red easily or flushes periodically and you’re frustrated, keep reading. Rosacea (roz-ZAY-sha) is a type of inflammatory chronic skin condition that not only produces skin flushing, but can have a myriad of other symptoms. This often leaves the individual a little puzzled because it comes and goes. The symptoms can be confusing too, with redness to start or an acne breakout followed by a period of remission. The cycle then starts over until it stays longer and often gets worse, especially as you get older. The beginning stages however can be difficult to identify, because the symptoms are subtle.

Rosacea Symptoms

Symptoms usually begin in your 30’s (although can be earlier), marked by its hallmark flushing of the cheeks, or across the central part of the face. Other symptoms can involve inflammatory bumps, or pustules that resemble pimples, skin sensitivity, itching, dryness, and facial swelling. More severe symptoms can involve the eyes (ocular rosacea), or the nose causing the skin to overgrow and become red and bulbous (rhinophyma). Rosacea has 4 subtypes and just because you have one doesn’t not necessarily mean it will progress, but it can.

If you think you might have rosacea, don’t panic.  It is manageable, but first you need an evaluation from a dermatologist who will determine if you have it, and what type of rosacea it is.

Why It’s Important to Get a Diagnosis

This might seem obvious, but many people skip the dermatologist and try to manage it on their own. This is often a combination of Google searches, trying various skincare products, or worse seeking advice from health guru friends, only to think you are getting better, then have it worsen again (the rosacea cycle). While it is true, much of managing rosacea will still be done from home, there are medications, and treatments that are much more effective in helping to get your skin under control. Treatment plans are not one size fits all and your dermatologist will provide a treatment plan for your type of rosacea.

Rosacea Triggers

It’s not a coincidence your skin gets activated on a sunny day or when you have a glass of wine. Rosacea has a lot of triggers, so it’s important to pay attention. Common triggers for flair-ups include:

  • Heat, including sun exposure on a warm day
  • Alcohol
  • Stress, embarrassment
  • Wind, or other environmental factors that cause temperature change
  • Hormones, including menopause
  • Exercise
  • Certain foods like anything spicy, vinegar, hot beverages, and more

 The Emotional Effects

Having rosacea can have an effect on quality of life, and this is no surprise. Rosacea can look bad and be difficult to conceal, plus uncomfortable. Some of the subtypes can actually produce unpleasant sensations in the skin or eye pain. A recent blog by The National Rosacea Society, “Rosacea Related Behaviors That Could Sabotage Your Social Life” discusses this and bases the information off a survey taken by actual rosacea suffers. The study had 860 respondents reporting a whopping 86% had low self-esteem. Second to that was feeling embarrassed by their skin condition. This is just a sampling of great info in the blog, and just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how rosacea effects people emotionally.

Medication and Treatments

Treatments for rosacea have progressed a lot over the years, and now address a wider range of topical and oral medications to reduce inflammation, control redness, and reduce breakouts. This combined with skincare can greatly improve flair-ups. Laser to reduce the redness can also help with the way the skin looks, even reduce overgrown tissue like in the case of rhinophyma. The most important of all treatments is consistency. Rosacea can take time to get under control, so giving up quickly is often why people fail.

Helpful Resources

Information is key to helping better understand rosacea. Starting with your dermatologist, and credible resources like The National Rosacea Society and American Academy of Dermatology Website. We’ve added links and encourage you to explore both resources and try not to get bogged down with confusing and sometimes misleading information on social media.

Cosmetic Surgery & Dermatology of Issaquah is dedicated to providing helpful information to better understand the symptoms of rosacea and other dermatologic skin conditions, including early skin cancer detection. We also stress the importance of seeking medical care. Skin conditions diagnosed early have better outcomes, and contribute to a better quality of life.

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