Rosacea

Long-term, possibly permanent, redness and pimples on the cheeks and forehead

  • Most common between the ages of 30 and 55
  • More common in females
  • Often runs in families
  • Alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods may trigger attacks

In rosacea, a rash develops on the central area of the face and often results in burning or itching. The cause of the disorder is unknown, but there may be a genetic factor because rosacea often runs in families. Women between the ages of 30 and 55 are most commonly affected. The rash may be triggered by eating a spicy meal, drinking alcohol or coffee, or entering a hot room.

What are the symptoms?

In most cases, the first symptom is red flushing, which often appears on the cheeks, nose, and forehead after exposure to one of the trigger factors. Later, a rash develops, which is intermittent at first but may become permanent. Other symptoms include:

  • Red, puffy skin.

  • White- or yellow-headed pimples.

  • Visible tiny blood vessels.

  • Stinging, burning, or itching sensation in the affected area.

If the skin of the nose is affected, it may eventually thicken, swell, and become purplish red. This condition, which is known as rhinophyma, most commonly occurs in elderly men. About 1 in 4 people who has rosacea also develops irritation of the eyes.

Rosacea pimples on the forehead

The white- and yellow-headed pimples resemble acne lesions and often appear on the cheeks, nose, and forehead.

What might be done?

You should avoid anything that triggers flushing, such as spicy food, alcohol, or coffee. In addition, avoid sunlight and the use of topical corticosteroids, both of which tend to aggravate rosacea.

To treat the condition, your doctor may prescribe metronidazole gel, a topical antibiotic (see Preparations for skin infections and infestations), which is usually effective. However, if the rosacea does not improve, you may be prescribed the antibiotic tetracycline (see Antibiotics), topical azelaic acid, or an oral retinoid drug. You may need several weeks of treatment before the rash eventually clears up.

If rhinophyma develops, the area of thickened skin on the nose can be pared away under general anaesthesia. Normal skin tissue will then form to cover the treated surface of the nose.

Rosacea usually comes and goes over a period of 5–10 years before finally disappearing. Occasionally, the condition may be lifelong, especially in men.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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