Rosacea is a chronic skin condition often characterized by persistent redness, visible blood vessels, or pimples on the face. Individuals with rosacea may also experience a burning or tingling sensation, skin dryness and changes in skin texture. Symptoms may vary in intensity from one person to another.
In some cases, rosacea affects the eyes, causing the following symptoms: dryness, foreign body sensation, sensitivity to light, watery eyes, swollen eyelids or visible blood vessels on the edge of the eyelids. Symptoms of ocular rosacea can occur in isolation or in combination with those of facial rosacea.
Causes and triggers
While the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, an impaired skin barrier function or faulty immune system may be involved. It is likely that genetics also play a role.
Rosacea is more likely to occur in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 years of age, and is more prevalent in women and fair-skinned individuals. Certain factors can trigger flare-ups, including:
- Temperature extremes
- Sun exposure
- Spicy foods
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- Strenuous exercise
- Certain medications
- Certain skincare products
- Hot drinks
- Hot baths
- Menopausal hot flashes
Repeated exposure to triggers may worsen rosacea and hinder treatment efficacy.
Just as the symptoms of rosacea vary from person to person, so do the treatments. While rosacea cannot be cured, the goal is to relieve symptoms and prevent them from progressing. In fact, if left untreated, rosacea can slowly worsen over many months or years.
For rosacea-sufferers, pinpointing and avoiding factors that trigger symptoms is key. To reduce inflammation, the following measures are also recommended:
- Apply a moisturizing cream regularly to keep the skin hydrated.
- Wash the skin with a mild cleanser (e.g., Cetaphil).
- Avoid products that irritate or exfoliate the skin.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily, and wear sun-protective clothing.
- Use artificial tears and daily eye and eyelash treatments if you have ocular rosacea.
To conceal redness, use a green-tinted primer or powder. The green tint neutralizes the redness for a more natural and even skin tone.
In addition to recommending the measures above, your health care provider may prescribe medication that can be applied on the skin or taken by mouth.
When should I see a medical professional?
- If you experience persistent facial redness.
- If you are embarrassed or otherwise bothered by the redness.
- If your skin swells or if you feel a burning or tingling sensation when you flush.
- If you have pimples or small bumps on your face.
- If your eyes are often bloodshot, watery or irritated.
- If there are areas on the nose, chin, forehead or ears where the skin is thickened, bumpy or red.
For more information:
Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada