What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition affecting the face, in which the skin appears abnormally red, or flushed. It is estimated that Rosacea affects more than 16 million Americans. Although Rosacea may develop at any age, it usually occurs in people after age 30 as a flushing or redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go, but it can begin as early as age 20.
In the beginning, Rosacea will first seem like the person has a tendency to blush easily, or may simply have a red, uneven, complexion. The redness first shows across the nose and cheeks and may be dry and patchy. As the condition progresses, there may be papules and pustules (pimples) which looks like acne – this is one of the primary reasons the condition is often misdiagnosed.
Over time, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear. If left untreated (especially in men), the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. In many people the eyes are also affected, feeling irritated and appearing watery or bloodshot.
Individuals with fair skin who tend to flush or blush easily are believed to be at greatest risk for developing Rosacea. The disorder is more frequently diagnosed in women, but tends to be more severe in men. There is also evidence that Rosacea may run in families, and may be especially prevalent in people of Northern or Eastern European descent.
Living with Rosacea
The cause of Rosacea is unknown but there is evidence that it is becoming increasingly widespread as the baby boom generation enters the most susceptible age for developing the disorder. A recent survey of the National Rosacea Society found that 78% of Americans who have Rosacea, have no idea what it is, how to recognize it, or what to do about it.
Many believe that Rosacea may be a vascular disorder because of its association with flushing, redness and visible blood vessels. Some physicians have also speculated that flushing may involve the nervous system, since it is often triggered or aggravated when patients are under emotional stress.
Whatever the cause, this red-faced, acne-like condition, can be difficult to live with, causing significant psychological, social and occupational problems if left untreated. In surveys by the National Rosacea Society, more than 76% of Rosacea patients said their condition had lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem, and a whopping 88% said the disorder had adversely affected their professional life.
Signs of Rosacea
The National Rosacea Society lists the most common signs of Rosacea as:
Flushing – people with Rosacea have frequent blushing or flushing. This facial redness may come and go, and is often the earliest sign of the disorder.
Persistent Redness – Persistent facial redness is the most common individual sign of Rosacea, and may resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.
Bumps and Pimples – Small red solid bumps or pimples often develop. While these may resemble acne, blackheads are not present, and burning or stinging may occur.
Visible Blood Vessels – In many people with Rosacea, small blood vessels become visible on the skin.
Other, less common signs can be:
Eye Irritation – In many Rosacea patients, the eyes may be irritated and appear watery or bloodshot. The eyelids also may become red and swollen, and styes are common.
Burning or Stinging – Burning or stinging sensations may often occur on the face. Itching or a feeling of tightness may also develop.
Dry Appearance – The central facial skin may be rough, and thus appear to be very dry.
Plaques – Raised red patches, known as plaques, may develop without changes in the surrounding skin.
Skin Thickening – The skin may thicken and enlarge from excess tissue, most commonly on the nose. This condition affects more men than women.
Swelling – Facial swelling may accompany other signs of Rosacea, or it may occur independently.
Signs Beyond the Face – Rosacea signs and symptoms may also develop beyond the face, most commonly on the neck, chest, scalp or ears.
The National Rosacea Society (NRS) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of millions of Americans who suffer from Rosacea. Click here to learn more about Rosacea and the NRS.
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