Rosacea – causes and treatment

Rosacea is a vascular disorder which means that it pertains to blood circulation and veins. It usually affects people over thirty, but it may also appear in the early twenties or at a later stage in life around the age of seventy or eighty.

The condition starts with the appearance of redness on the nose and cheeks. At first it comes and goes, but with time it becomes more persistent and in some patients it spreads from the nose to the cheeks in a butterfly-shaped form. Enlarged capillaries begin to show through the skin, followed by swelling and thickening of connective tissue and sebaceous glands. Reddish bumps (papules) break out from time to time and sometimes are filled with pus (pustules).     It is very important not to confuse these symptoms with acne. They most frequently appear on the nose which, due to the thickening of connective tissue and sebaceous glands, becomes enlarged, unshapely and takes on a bulbous appearance. This symptom of rosacea affects almost exclusively male patients.

In the beginning rosacea appears on the face only occasionally, but later on becomes more and more frequent. The cause of this disorder is still mostly unknown, but it is presumed that a combination of various hereditary and environmental factors is to blame.
Certain factors may prompt the appearance of rosacea or make it worse by increasing blood flow on the skin’s surface. Some of those factors are hot food and beverages, over-spicy food, alcohol, exposure to extreme temperatures, sun and UV radiation, stress, heavy exercise, hot baths and saunas, corticosteroids as well as certain medication for blood vessels and high blood pressure.

Signs and symptoms of rosacea may include redness of the face, most often in the central part of the face, while small veins on the nose and cheeks often become enlarged and turn into visible, swollen red lumps. Many patients develop bumps on the face that resemble acne, sometimes filled with pus, and eye problems – about half of patients suffering from rosacea also deal with eye dryness, irritation and redness of the lids. Some patients first develop eye-related symptoms which are only later followed by rosacea. Also, rosacea is most commonly accompanied by couperosis whose main symptoms are enlarged capillaries.

Although there is no cure for rosacea, there are treatments which can control and reduce the signs and symptoms of the illness. They most often include a combination of certain prescription drugs and certain changes in lifestyle. Although rosacea is not caused by a bacteria, treatment frequently includes antibiotics which have an anti-inflammatory effect. They may be administered in the form of pills or creams, gels or lotions to be used on damaged skin in order to prevent further spreading. Metronidazole, azelaic acid and ivermectin are also often used. Along with metronidazole, ivermectin is the increasingly used conventional therapy of choice since it fights the Demodex mite whose two species, D. folliculorum and D. brevis, live inside the pilosebaceous units of human skin, feeding on sebum and dead skin cells and causing an immune reaction of the skin which leads to progression of rosacea symptoms.

Rosacea is a chronic and progressive vascular disease and no cream can make it go away for good. However proper skin care and certain products containing calming ingredients may alleviate the symptoms and won’t irritate the skin further if rosacea is not in its acute phase. During the day skin must be protected by a gentle SPF since UV radiation is a major trigger for inflammations on skin suffering from rosacea.

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