What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a little-known skin disorder that affects close to 10% of the population! The disorder is characterized by frequent flushing on the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead as well as watery, irritated and itchy eyes. These symptoms seep into the blood stream, dilating small blood vessels and becoming visible on the surface of the skin. This chronic problem should not be left untreated, as it will only worsen with time.

Rosacea is a little-known skin disorder that affects close to 10% of the population! The disorder is characterized by frequent flushing on the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead as well as watery, irritated and itchy eyes. These symptoms seep into the blood stream, dilating small blood vessels and becoming visible on the surface of the skin. This chronic problem should not be left untreated, as it will only worsen with time.

At a more advanced stage of the disorder, the nose may become bumpy, red and puffy, although this swelling or oedema can also affect other parts of the face such as the chin, eyelids and ears. Rosacea causes deep emotional and psychological distress. While women tend to be greatly affected because of the dramatic changes in their personal appearance, the greatest anguish for men sufferers is that rosacea is often confused with alcoholism. The cutaneous facial signs resemble what is commonly known as “brandy nose”, leading people to mistake rosacea sufferers for alcoholics.

Although the cause of rosacea remains unknown, we know various factors can aggravate it and trigger flare-ups, particularly those that increase the body’s internal temperature. Sufferers should avoid the following: sun, wind and extreme cold exposure; hot or alcoholic beverages and spicy foods; and emotional stress. These known trigger factors cause the blood vessels located under the surface of skin to dilate, resulting in persistent flushing and redness.

Rosacea remains incurable. However, the treatments available today will help attenuate symptoms and slow progression. Because there are no effective over-the-counter medications, you must speak with your physician or dermatologist as soon as the symptoms become uncomfortable. Rosacea is usually treated with a combination of topical antibiotic gel that is applied directly onto the affected area, and oral antibiotics. Rosacea can cause permanent and irreversible damage to the skin and should not go untreated.

You should see improvements after using the prescribed medication for three or four weeks, but optimal results are usually attained after two months. It takes a great deal of patience, courage and respecting the recommendations of your physician and pharmacist to increase your chance of successful treatment.

Please seek help from a professional before the emotional distress caused by rosacea takes over your life. You need not go through this alone.

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