Beneath the Surface

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Seeing Red? Why Ongoing Dermatology Care is Essential to Managing Rosacea

To describe the skin condition rosacea as “rosy cheeks” is likely minimizing the affliction for many. April is rosacea awareness month so let’s take a closer look at this chronic and unfortunately incurable dermatologic ailment and its array of treatment options.

According to the National Rosacea Society website, about 16 million Americans have some degree of rosacea. Rosacea typically shows up in adults in their early 30s as redness on their face, and that redness may initially come and go.

Over time, however, rosacea can get progressively worse if left untreated. Those ‘rosy cheeks’ may become ruddier, more persistent, and eventually include visible blood vessels and a bumpy or pimply appearance – which may be confused for adult acne. Some patients experience red or irritated eyes. In more severe cases, excess tissue might grow on the nose, resulting in a more bulbous appearance. Even though there is no cure for rosacea, early diagnosis by a dermatologist and compliance with treatment are very helpful in keeping the condition in check.

rosacea, red skin, red face

Image source: National Rosacea Society. Before & after example treatment photo for rosacea subtype 2 treated with topical medication.

Who Gets Rosacea?

  • While it affects all types, fair-skinned people tend to be more affected.
  • Women outnumber men in diagnosis, but men are more likely to get more severe forms of rosacea.
  • Rosacea usually starts after the age of 30.
  • There is some data to suggest there is a hereditary component, but the exact causes of rosacea are unknown.

If There’s No Cure, What Does Treatment Do?

Rosacea is a chronic condition that affects each patient a bit differently, so treatment plans should be tailored and can help manage it over time. Treatment is long term and may include any or all of the following:

  • Seeing a dermatologist is essential and can confirm the symptoms point to rosacea vs. another medical condition. Based on the patient’s rosacea subtype (there are 4 subtypes), the dermatologist may prescribe either or both oral and topical medications to reduce the visibility of redness and the bumpy/pimply texture of the skin. Additional treatments such as lasers, pulsed light sources, or minor surgical procedures may be advised to reduce blood vessel appearance, severe redness, and excess tissue.
  • Rosacea patients should see their dermatologist for routine follow up to check on treatment response and to make any adjustments. Keeping rosacea controlled requires long-term care.
  • Proper skin care is helpful, and includes using non-abrasive facial cleaners and cloths; diligent use of sunscreen; and choosing non-irritating products.
  • Avoiding “triggers” for rosacea can also help. Those triggers can be both environmental and dietary, and triggers may vary from person to person so keeping a diary is advised. Based on a National Rosacea Society survey of rosacea patients, common triggers (>40% incidence) include:
    • Weather related, such as: sun exposure, heat/hot water, wind, cold, humidity
    • Stress
    • Vigorous exercise
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Spicy food

The National Rosacea Society website (www.rosacea.org) is a wonderful resource for those wanting to learn more about any aspect of the condition and for patients to get support.

If you suspect you have rosacea – or if you know you do and haven’t seen a dermatologist in awhile – we make it easy and fast to get a treatment plan from an online board-certified U.S. dermatologist through DermatologistOnCall®. Start an online visit now:

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