Rosacea is a chronic disorder affecting the facial skin. It is characterized by sporadic eruptions of red patches on the cheeks, nose, forehead or chin. Over a period of time, the symptoms exacerbate, with the appearance of visible blood vessels if left untreated, the skin in the area develops visible blood vessels, bumps or pimples. It usually affects individuals above the age of 30. Women and individuals with a fair skin and smokers are at higher risk of developing this disorder. The condition is hereditary in most cases.
In some instances, the symptoms may spread to the neck, chest, scalp or ears. In severe cases of Rosacea, the nose can become swollen due to excessive tissue in the area. It can affect the eyes in some patients making them red and bloodshot. The symptoms in men tend to be more severe; this could also be because of delayed diagnosis.
There is no known cure for Rosacea, however, the symptoms can be controlled and managed.
Symptoms may vary among individuals, however, some of the common symptoms include flushing and redness that is concentrated in the center of the face, persistent redness, small red bumps or pus-filled pimples, visible blood vessels or spider veins and burning and stinging of the affected area.
Some individuals may show other symptoms which include eye Irritation, dryness, skin thickening (the skin of the affected area becomes thick due to the accumulation of excess tissue, It usually affects the skin of the nose and is more common in men or Facial Swelling).
The cause of this disorder is not known; it could be due to a combination of environmental and hereditary factors. However, there are several conditions that can aggravate the symptoms, they include alcohol, exercise, cosmetics, emotional triggers, a medication that dilates blood vessels, spicy food and temperature extremes.
Types of Rosacea
- Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea- characterized by flushing and persistent redness, and may also include visible blood vessels.
- Papulopustular Rosacea - the condition is associated with persistent redness with sporadic pus-filled bumps and pimples.
- Phymatous Rosacea - Individuals affected by the condition develop a thick skin in the affected area, often resulting in an enlargement of the nose.
- Ocular Rosacea – affects the eyes of the patient causing dryness, swelling, burning of the eye. Swollen eyelids and recurring styes may affect the eye. It can lead to corneal damage in untreated cases.
The symptoms tend to aggravate with time if proper medication and precautions are not taken. An individual may exhibit symptoms of more than one type of Rosacea at any given It is important to understand the peculiarities of your symptoms before you consult a doctor; this can help in better diagnosis and treatment.
Before deciding to make an appointment, make sure you know everything about your signs and symptoms:
- When do they appear?
- When do they disappear?
- What factors aggravate or relieve them?
Prepare yourself for questions like these because these are some of the questions that your dermatologist will surely ask you.
An easy way to know your symptoms is by maintaining a symptom diary. In this diary, record all of the symptoms you have developed and when they first begin to appear. Note down factors that may have caused to aggravate your symptoms such as exposure to sunlight, spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, extreme weather, and certain cosmetic products.
Moreover, make sure that you have an idea about the treatment methods that you have tried for your skin condition. Take along with you all the prescriptions that you have tried earlier. You should also prepare yourself to talk about any problem that appears as a result of drugs that you once took such as swelling of the face, itchiness of the body, or any abdominal discomforts.
At the dermatologist’s office
Your dermatologist will first ask you a series of questions regarding your skin condition, including:
- When did you first develop these changes?
- How often do you experience these symptoms?
- Have they been present continuously or do they just come and go intermittently?
- What factors exacerbate these symptoms?
- What factors seem to relieve these symptoms?
- Have you tried anything at home to reduce them, and if so, what was the result?
- Does anyone else in your family have this condition?
For women, a dermatologist may also ask questions regarding their menstrual cycles because rosacea seems to be common among the post-menopausal women. Thus, women should expect a few questions regarding menstruation.
After your dermatologist takes a detailed history from you, he or she may begin to examine your skin. Show the doctor the exact locations of the skin affected so that he/she could examine it properly. Some of the signs that your dermatologist should notice are:
- Redness and flushing of the face mostly concentrated over the cheeks, nose, and the forehead.
- Tiny dilated blood vessels visible on the face, which is known as telangiectasia.
- Bumps or pimples on the face that look like acne breakouts.
- Bloodshot eyes or a watery eye, which is a sign of ocular rosacea, and is often accompanied by other symptoms such as stinging or burning sensations of the eye.
- Thickened nasal skin that causes your nose to look larger. This condition is known as rhinophyma or Phymatous rosacea.
You can also prepare a list of questions to ask the doctor for a smoother and more satisfying appointment.
- What is the cause of Rosacea including the triggers that may aggravate the condition?
- Are there any tests to confirm the diagnosis?
- What are the treatments available to control the symptoms?
- Apart from the medication, what other precautions and methods could work for you?
- What are the complications if you fail to take the treatment or are unable to follow it?
- What should you reasonably expect from treatment?
Rosacea is solely diagnosed based on your history and physical examination. There are no specific tests available to diagnose rosacea. Therefore, before visiting your dermatologist, have a good idea about your signs and symptoms to help your doctor come up with an accurate diagnosis. After all, an accurate diagnosis is the only thing needed for a better management and outcome of the disease.