A skin condition like rosacea can have a psychological impact. Experiencing redness, bumps and pimples can make you feel embarrassed or self-conscious.
A rosacea diagnosis usually involves an exam of your skin and eyes. You may also be asked to keep a diary of your symptoms and the events that trigger them.
If you have facial flushing that doesn’t go away, or your skin burns and itches, you may have rosacea. It’s a common condition that affects about 14 million Americans, mostly adults. It’s most common in women and people with lighter skin, but men and darker-skinned people can also get it. It can cause serious problems if left untreated.
There’s no cure for rosacea, but treatments can ease symptoms and prevent them from flaring up. It’s important to avoid triggers such as spicy foods, alcohol and sun exposure. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors. You can reduce flare-ups by using skincare products that are gentle and fragrance-free, and avoiding cosmetics with ingredients like menthol or camphor.
Keeping a diary of what makes your rosacea flare up can help you identify possible triggers. It’s a good idea to write down everything you eat and drink, as well as your symptoms, for about 2 weeks. You can then look for patterns.
Doctors treat rosacea by prescribing drugs that decrease flushing and redness, or ones that control the bacteria that cause inflammation. They may also suggest light-based therapies such as laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment, where beams of light are aimed at the visible blood vessels in the face to shrink them. In some cases, doctors remove thickened tissue with surgery.
Rosacea affects people in different ways, but most of the time it causes redness on the face. This can be in patches or over a whole area. It may also swell up or get bumpy and flaky.
The condition most often appears between the ages of 30 and 50, but it can affect people of any age. It starts with frequent blushing or flushing of the skin. Over time, this may lead to permanent redness (erythema). Visible small blood vessels on the surface of the skin may develop. These are called telangiectasia. The eyes are often affected too, causing them to look watery or bloodshot (ocular rosacea).
Sometimes the skin can thicken and enlarge, especially on the nose. This is known as rhinophyma rosacea and can lead to facial disfigurement and difficulty breathing if severe.
It can be hard to cope with a chronic condition, and many people with rosacea report feelings of embarrassment or low self-esteem. However, if you are aware of triggers that make your symptoms worse and take steps to avoid them, your symptoms should improve over time. If you’re having trouble managing your symptoms, you should seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you learn to accept your condition and cope with it better. They can also recommend treatments such as counseling and medication to reduce your symptoms.
A physician may diagnose rosacea by observation of the skin and taking a detailed history. The patient is often asked about trigger factors such as sun exposure, emotional stress, hot or cold weather, wind, vigorous exercise, spicy foods and alcoholic beverages. In some cases, the doctor may perform a skin biopsy.
Skin creams may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and redness. Other medicines, such as retinoids or drugs approved for other conditions, can help decrease flushing. Doctors also can use laser and light-based therapies to shrink visible blood vessels or remove thickened tissue. In severe rosacea, surgery may be necessary to restore facial proportions and reduce excess skin.
Keeping a diary of symptoms can be helpful in pinpointing individual triggers. The National Rosacea Society offers a free rosacea diary booklet for members.
Although rosacea is incurable, proper treatment can control most of its symptoms. It’s important for people with this condition to seek medical attention before the symptoms become severe and affect daily activities. People with rosacea are at increased risk of developing mental health problems, including depression. Talking to a therapist can be helpful for these patients. For many, the best way to cope with rosacea is to avoid triggers. The condition can be very frustrating for those who suffer from it, but with persistence and the help of a healthcare provider, symptoms can improve.
Many rosacea symptoms are easy to treat with creams, washes and other skin products. It is important to avoid known triggers, such as spicy food and alcohol, which can worsen a flare-up. A wide-spectrum sunscreen is also vital to prevent sun damage to the skin. There are also several prescription drugs, including the antibiotics metronidazole and azelaic acid and the skin-whitening agent sulfacetamide. These are usually taken orally and can be combined with topical medications. Other treatments include light therapy and laser treatment for visible blood vessels. Surgery may be an option for severe rosacea, such as rhinophyma (a very bulbous nose).
Symptoms of rosacea come and go, but they can get progressively worse without treatment. Getting diagnosed and starting treatment early can help prevent this from happening. Some people may need to try different medications before finding one that works for them. It is also helpful to keep a diary of when the symptoms appear, what was done and what seems to make them better or worse.
Rosacea can have a big impact on a person’s emotional well-being, as it makes them feel embarrassed and frustrated about their appearance. It can lead to a lack of confidence and can cause problems in relationships, work or school. It is important to seek support from a charity like Changing Faces, which can offer advice and help with the psychological effects of the condition.