What is it?
Rosacea is a common but poorly understood long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face. It can be controlled to some degree with long-term treatment, but sometimes the changes in physical appearance can have a significant psychological impact.
What are the symptoms?
Rosacea causes a range of symptoms, although not everyone will experience them all. Most people with rosacea have periods when their symptoms are particularly troublesome, followed by periods when their symptoms are less so. The main symptoms of rosacea include: * flushing * persistent facial redness * visible blood vessels * papules and pustules * thickened skin These are discussed in more detail below. Other symptoms associated with rosacea include: * sensitive skin – burning, itching, stinging and pain * dry, rough skin * raised red patches (plaques) on your skin * facial swelling (lymphoedema) Permanent damage to the face (scarring) almost never occurs in rosacea. Flushing Flushing is when your skin turns red for a short period – usually a few minutes. It tends to mainly affect the face, although it can spread to your neck and chest. In some cases the redness may be accompanied by an unpleasant feeling of heat. In rosacea flushing is often caused by a certain trigger, such as sun exposure, hot drinks or exercise. See causes of rosacea for more information about possible triggers. Persistent facial redness Persistent facial redness (erythema) is like a blush or a patch of sunburn that doesn’t go away, or the sort of blotchy skin often associated with drinking too much alcohol. This can be upsetting for those with rosacea as people can mistakenly assume they are heavy drinkers. The redness usually affects the cheeks, nose and chin, but may spread to other areas, such as the forehead, neck and chest. Visible blood vessels Over time the blood vessels in the skin may become permanently widened (dilated) and visible. The medical name for visible blood vessels is telangiectasia. Papules and pustules If you have rosacea, you may develop round red bumps that rise from your skin (papules) and pus-filled swellings (pustules). These spots appear on your face and are similar to acne. Rosacea used to be called acne rosacea, but the 2 conditions are quite different. In rosacea there are no blackheads and the skin is not greasy, but dry and peeling. Rosacea spots also don’t cause scarring. Thickened skin In the most serious cases of rosacea the skin can thicken and form excess tissue, usually around the nose. This causes the nose to take on a large, bulbous appearance (rhinophyma). Rhinophyma is an uncommon, severe symptom of rosacea and takes several years to develop. It almost exclusively affects men.
- Protect your face. Apply sunscreen daily. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Take other steps to protect your skin, such as wearing hats and avoiding midday sun. In cold, windy weather, wear a scarf or ski mask.
- Treat your skin gently.
- Apply makeup. Some makeup products and techniques may help reduce the appearance of skin redness. For example, apply green-tinted makeup before a light liquid foundation. Or try a light dusting of green-tinted facial powder.
- Aloe vera: take the gel directly from an aloe vera leaf and gently rub into affected areas. Aloe vera has powerful antibacterial properties and aids fast healing of the skin. A teaspoonful of the gel can also be consumed blended with fruit juice for internal cleansing which can help treat rosacea.
- Apple cider vinegar, half a freshly squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of locally produced honey taken in a cup of warm water first thing every morning (before anything else) can help with symptoms of rosacea. Apple cider vinegar (especially organic and unpasteurised) is a powerful internal cleanser as is lemon juice and locally produced honey can often reduce allergic reactions.
- Avoid triggers. Know what tends to cause flare-ups for you and avoid those triggers.
- Don’t rub or touch your face too much. Use a non soap cleanser and moisturize frequently.
- Avoid products that contain alcohol or other skin irritants.
Things to watch out for
GP can refer you to a skin specialist.