Rosacea affects around 415 million people worldwide, although only a small fraction of this number of people actually receive treatment for the condition. As with all skin conditions, like eczema, vitiligo, and even acne, it can impact on your quality of life. Self-confidence, anxiety, depression, and a reluctance to socialise can all become issues as a result. If you have experienced a rosacea flare-up, you’ll understand both the physical and emotional discomfort of the disease.

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Rosacea: understanding the condition

Rosacea is an inflammatory condition in which the blood vessels in the skin dilate. Symptoms present as a rash, generally on the face, around the cheeks, forehead, chin, and on the nose. The rash is red, flushed, and small blood vessels become visible. Small red bumps and pus-filled spots also form part of the rash. Rosacea is a chronic condition, it is a long-term and ongoing health issue that will have periods where the symptoms are reduced, and periods during which the symptoms flare up. While there are no cures for rosacea, long-term treatment plans are very effective. Typically, the condition is more prevalent in women than in men, but men tend to have symptoms that are more severe.

The causes and triggers

There is no concrete and proven cause for rosacea, only factors that trigger flare-ups. There is a theory that suggests it’s caused by bacteria on the skin and in the gut because in many cases, antibiotics ease the symptoms. This theory has not been proven, in fact, antibiotics work as a treatment because of their anti-inflammatory effects. Managing the condition means identifying environmental and other triggers. Common triggers include:

  • Alcohol
  • Exercise
  • High and low temperatures
  • Hot drinks
  • Spicy foods
  • Stress
  • Harsh natural light (a good sun protection protocol is essential)

While there are patterns of rosacea within families, there is no genetic link to suggest the condition is hereditary. It might be brought on by environmental factors or habits that are commonly shared among members of the same family.

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The common symptoms of rosacea

Rosacea is a complex illness. Its symptoms stretch wider than one would expect. The skin on the face is sensitive, which can often lead to the affected area feeling hot, with a stinging sensation being noted. The psychological effects of the condition include anxiety, a lowered self-worth, frustration, and even depression. For that reason, it’s important to seek help. Conditions like rosacea rarely affect only the skin, it ripples into every other avenue of life too.

Rosacea can affect the eyes. If you suspect this is the case, it is vital to seek help immediately as the condition can progress and affect your ability to see. The eye condition which is associated with rosacea is called rosacea keratitis, and it mostly affects the front of the eyes. Symptoms include a sensitivity to light and a burning, itching, and gritty sensation in the eyes and eyelids, as well as redness.

The face of rosacea

Rosacea is often seen in people with very fair skin. It will start with frequent blushing, and over time the red hue to the affected area stays constant. Small dilated blood vessels appear along with red spots. Lymphoedema, the swelling of the affected skin, is sometimes also present, especially the eyes and sometimes on the nose.

Treating rosacea

Due to the complexity of the condition, treatment can be multifaceted. Here are some of the common treatments that show positive results.

Local applications

The inflammation of mild to moderate rosacea responds well to a locally applied anti-inflammatory preparation like topical metronidazole and many others. It requires persistence, as the effects will only begin to show after 8 weeks of treatment.  

Oral antibiotics

For moderate to severe cases, an oral antibiotic is prescribed. The duration of the course is determined by the antibiotic you are prescribed. Sometimes, an oral antibiotic will be prescribed alongside the local anti-inflammatory preparation.

Other treatments

  • Oral isotretinoin at lower doses decided by your dermatologist.
  • An ophthalmologist will need to assist in severe cases that affect the eyes.
  • Surgery can treat rhinophyma (bulbous or bumpy nose).
  • Laser therapy can treat the dilated blood vessels while topical vasoconstrictors like brimonidine gel reduce redness.
  • If blushing remains a challenge, a beta blocker can help to control that.

Staying on top of life

Living your best life with rosacea is indeed possible. The treatment protocols modern medicine brings us are effective, they simply require tenacity and patience. A qualified dermatologist is trained to deal with this condition in the most effective manner possible. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your prognosis will be. Contact Dr. Khoza, our practice will welcome you with an understanding ear and solid treatment plan.