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What is Rosacea and is it treatable?

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that effects more than 45 million worldwide and affects up to 1 in 10 people in Europe (NHS.UK 2018). Known to effect women more than men, its mainly presents in Caucasian fair skinned population. Rosacea can present quite differently but symptoms are known to include a difference in skin texture, flushing easily, enlargement of the nose, pustules and papules and swollen eyes.

What Triggers Rosacea?

Despite us not fully understanding why people get rosacea, there are a number of triggers, such as spicy foods and getting overheated, which often exacerbate the conditions. While these triggers can be difficult to avoid, there are measures which can be taken to prevent flare-ups.

When most people think of rosacea, they picture a flushed face, possibly with visible blood vessels under the surface. However, there are four different sub-types of rosacea, each manifesting themselves in distinctly different ways. These four sub-types each go by different names:

1. Erythematotelangiectatic (ETR) Rosacea | Sub-Type 1

Women in their 30s and above are usually the most likely to get this form of the skin condition. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, which we will now refer to as ETR rosacea (for obvious reasons), is characterised by prolonged flushing of the face, which is an increase in blood flow through capillaries near the surface of the skin. While this form of rosacea is rarely painful, it can cause visible changes to the skin which can result in a loss in confidence.

2. Acne Rosacea | Sub-Type 2

So-called due to the red acne-like breakouts on the surface of the skin, Acne rosacea is also known as papulopustular rosacea, due to the pustules that appear, some yellow and pus-filled.

It has been thought that demodex mites could be the cause of acne rosacea as it is found that people with the condition have an increased number of them living on their face near sebaceous glands and hair follicles. Antibiotics have been found to be a good treatment for acne.

3. Rhinophyma | Sub-Type 3

Rhinophyma (also known as whiskey nose) is a form of rosacea where the sebaceous glands under the surface of the nose become enlarged, resulting in them forming together and thus making the nose swell. It is thought to be a consequence of a build-up of lymph fluid and not, as was commonly thought, due to excessive drinking. Rhinophyma tends to affect men over the age of 50. Although rhinophyma is the most difficult of the four rosacea types to treat, much can be done to reduce redness and inflammation to some extent.

4. Ocular Rosacea | Sub-Type 4

Ocular rosacea is usually developed alongside another form of rosacea and affects more than half of all rosacea sufferers. It can be categorized by:

  • dry, itchy eyes,

  • inflammation around the eyelashes,

  • redness in the whites of the eyes.

Ocular rosacea symptoms usually improve as the accompanying rosacea condition affecting the skin is addressed, but it can be irritating and uncomfortable in the meantime. It is therefore advised for sufferers of type 4 to keep their eyes hydrated using dry eye drops of some kind.

How Can Rosacea be Treated?

Treatment for rosacea focuses on controlling signs and symptoms. Most often this requires a combination of good skincare and prescription drugs. The duration of your treatment depends on the type and severity of your signs and symptoms and unfortunately recurrence is common.

New pharma rosacea medications have been developed in recent years depending on which signs and symptoms you're experiencing. You may need to try different options or a combination of drugs to find a treatment that works for you.

Topical drugs that reduce redness. For mild to moderate rosacea, you may be prescribed a cream or gel that you apply to the affected skin to reduce redness by constricting blood vessels. The effect on the blood vessels is temporary, so the medication will need to be applied regularly to maintain improvements. You may also be prescribed an oral for severe rosacea with bumps and pimples.

Oral acne drug. If you have severe rosacea that does not respond to other therapies, you may be prescribed a powerful oral acne drug that also helps clear up acne-like lesions of rosacea. Do not use this drug during pregnancy, as it can cause serious birth defects.

If you think you might have Rosacea, please contact The Healthy Skin Clinic on (01) 524 0016 to book a consultation. A skin consultation will look at the aspect of concern, the sensitivity of the skin, the genetic component, and potential treatments.

1: Source: (NHS.UK 2018)

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