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If it appears as though you’re blushing and you develop bumps that look similar to acne, then you may have a condition called Rosacea. 

These symptoms can flare up for weeks at a time and then go away for a while. 

What is Rosacea? 

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory acneiform skin condition of the pilosebaceous unit, or, more simply, a common skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels in the face. It usually has a chronic course with episodes of flaring that can last weeks or months.

Rosacea is often confused with acne, and, while these conditions sometimes look similar, they are different. 

The below symptoms are common signs of Rosacea:

  • Flushing or facial redness: Small blood vessels on your nose and cheeks swell and become visible, causing redness. As a result of vascular hyperreactivity, flushing may start early on in life and eventually manifests as Rosacea. 
  • Papules and pustules: These swollen, red bumps resemble acne and can sometimes contain pus. 
  • Enlarged nose, eyelids or chin: Caused by enlargement of the sebaceous glands; however, this usually only affects men. 
  • Eye problems: Dry, irritated, swollen eyes and red, swollen eyelids. 

Who gets Rosacea?

Rosacea occurs most frequently in fair-skinned people with a tendency to blush or flush that typically starts early on in life. These people generally have sensitive skin prone to sun damage. However, Rosacea can also affect darker skin types; in which case, the redness is not as visible.

The condition typically occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old and affects women more often than men. There is a family history of between 14 and 40% of sufferers. 

Are there different types of Rosacea? 

There are four main types of Rosacea, namely erythematotelangiectatic, papulopustular, phymatous and ocular. Find out more about each below: 

Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea is characterized by: 

  • Persistent centrofacial erythema (persistent redness on the face).
  • Flushing
  • Telangiectasias (dilated small blood vessels)
  • Skin sensitivity 

Papulopustular Rosacea is characterized by: 

  • Persistent centrofacial erythema (persistent redness on the face).
  • Papules and pustules 
  • May overlap with other subtypes of Rosacea.

Phymatous Rosacea is characterized by: 

  • Thickened, nodular skin
  • Prominent pores
  • Can affect the nose, chin, forehead, ears and eyelids
  • Mainly affects men

Ocular Rosacea is characterized by: 

  • Dry, gritty sensation in the eye
  • Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid)
  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membrane covering the eye)
  • Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea)

Other, less common types of Rosacea are Rosacea fulminans, solid facial oedema, and steroid Rosacea.

What are the causes of Rosacea? 

The causes of Rosacea are unknown; however, it may be a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. It’s important to note that Rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene. 

Flare-ups of Rosacea can be triggered by the below: 

  • Your genes. As mentioned, Rosacea does tend to run in the family.
  • Blood vessel issues. Whether caused by sun damage or by taking medication that dilates blood vessels, such as blood pressure medication. 
  • Hot drinks and spicy foods
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Sunlight or wind
  • Various cosmetic products
  • Mites
  • Bacteria (H. pylori)  

Are there treatments for Rosacea?

There is no cure for Rosacea. However, treatments can help reduce the redness, bumps and other symptoms. 

The treatment options available are based on the type of Rosacea and its severity. As Rosacea is a chronic condition, the treatment will vary throughout the course of the disease. 

A supportive skincare routine is vital in managing acute episodes of Rosacea; below are some general skincare tips:

  • Wash your face with a gentle, soap-free cleanser using lukewarm water
  • Make sure your sunscreen has UVA and UVB protection (with an SPF above 30)
  • Sunscreen that contains titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide is usually well-tolerated
  • Use only gentle skin care products and avoid abrasive exfoliators, toners unless recommended by your doctor or dermatologist 
  • Avoid cleansers and creams that have alcohol, fragrance, witch hazel, peppermint and eucalyptus oil
  • Avoid waterproof cosmetics and heavy foundations that are difficult to remove

Although there isn’t a cure for Rosacea, your dermatologist can assist with treating the symptoms and maintaining a healthy skincare regime to help reduce the signs of the condition and prevent them from getting worse.