Rosacea affects more than 3 million Americans each year and over 16 million Americans in total. This means that it’s one of the most common skin conditions, right up there with acne and eczema. Because it’s so common, one might think that the disease is well understood and even curable. Unfortunately, rosacea remains a somewhat mysterious skin condition, and can sometimes get confused for other skin conditions with similar symptoms.
That said, doctors and dermatologists have discovered some important details regarding rosacea, including its potential triggers, types, symptoms, and treatments. If you think you might suffer from some form of rosacea, this information is valuable. Let’s discuss the causes and symptoms of rosacea.
As of now, the jury is still out on the matter of rosacea causes. The best that doctors and dermatologists can do is attribute rosacea to a number of genetic and environmental factors.
If your family has a history with rosacea or other skin conditions, you’re more likely to develop it as well. Those with lighter skin also tend to suffer from rosacea more than those with darker skin tones, and women (especially those in middle age) get rosacea more than men on average. Rosacea may also have to do with malfunctioning blood vessels in the face. External factors such as bacteria and mites may also be related to rosacea.
While the root cause of rosacea remains unknown, researchers have discovered a number of rosacea triggers that lead to outbreaks in those carrying the disease. These triggers include severe cold or heat, mental or physical stress, spicy foods, alcohol, excessive sunlight, strong winds, certain cosmetics, and medications that affect blood vessels. Each individual with rosacea will have their own unique triggers, and it’s important to keep track of which stimuli set it off so future outbreaks can be prevented or mitigated.
Rosacea is an umbrella term that covers a variety of symptoms. To help make more precise diagnoses and provide better treatment, doctors have categorized rosacea into four sub-types or classifications. These four types of rosacea are erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, papulopustular rosacea, phymatous rosacea, and ocular rosacea.
Generally speaking, the most notable and common rosacea symptoms include redness, swelling, and clearly visible blood vessels, often in the face. However, each of the four subtypes of rosacea include slightly different symptoms and/or varying degrees of symptom severity. We’ll break them down below:
The first sub-type of rosacea includes the most common and basic rosacea symptoms, such as swelling of the skin, flushing and/or redness in the face, visible blood vessels, sensitive skin (possibly painful to the touch), dry skin, and possibly scaling skin.
This sub-type may contain many of the symptoms listed above, but is usually defined by oily skin as opposed to dry skin, as well as breakouts resembling acne and/or patches and bumps on the skin known as plaques. Middle-aged women tend to develop this type of rosacea.
Rarer than the other rosacea sub-types, this third type often displays symptoms found in other sub-types (redness, swelling, etc.), with the addition of thicker, bumpy skin, often on the nose and surrounding areas. Skin will often appear oily and pores may enlarge.
This final sub-type of rosacea is reserved for scenarios where the skin condition affects one or both eyes. In many cases, ocular rosacea can resemble a sty and cause the eyes to burn, sting, itch, dry out, and become more sensitive than usual. Patients may have trouble seeing and their eyes may look reddened and bloodshot.
The more we learn about rosacea, its triggers, and symptoms, the better we get at identifying, diagnosing, and treating this common skin condition. Each sub-type of rosacea may require its own treatment options. Generally speaking, though, rosacea treatments include topical drugs like brimonidine (Mirvaso) and oxymetazoline (Rhofade) that restrict blood vessels to reduce redness and swelling; ointments and creams to reduce acne-like outbreaks from rosacea, such as azelaic acid, metronidazole, and ivermectin; antibiotics to stave off infection and control pimples and plaques; and acne medications for severe rosacea with frequent outbreaks.
Ultimately, though, the best way to mitigate rosacea is to understand your triggers and avoid them as much as possible. Take good care of your skin, avoid food and beverages that irritate your gut and skin, reduce stress, and don’t stay out in the sun too long. Premier Dermatology Partners can help you identify your triggers and put you on the path to reducing your rosacea outbreaks. To learn more about our team and all the services we provide, contact us.