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What is rosacea?

Rosacea impacts about 14 million people in the United States. It is a long-term disease that affects skin, usually only on the face, and sometimes the eyes.

Symptoms include:

  • Redness, usually on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin
  • Pimples
  • Thicker skin (later stages)
  • A swollen nose. In some people (mostly men), the nose becomes red, larger, and bumpy.
  • Bumps on the skin
  • Burning feeling and slight swelling
  • Small red lines under the skin

This disease is most common in:

  • Women (especially during menopause)
  • People with fair skin
  • Adults between the ages of 30 and 60

Up to 50 percent of people who have rosacea get eye problems. Common issues are:

  • Inflamed eyes/eyelids
  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Excess tears
  • Feeling of having sand in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision or some other kind of vision problem

What causes rosacea?

Although there are many theories, there’s no known exact cause of rosacea.

Skin treatments

Although there is no cure, it can be treated and controlled with the help of a dermatologist. The goals of treatment are to control the condition and improve the appearance of the patient’s skin. It may take several weeks or months of treatment before a person notices an improvement of the skin. The bumps on the skin may respond quickly to treatments, but the redness and flushing are less likely to improve. Some rosacea treatments are:

  • Topical antibiotic, applied to the affected skin.
  • Oral antibiotic, for more severe cases.
  • Electrosurgery, dermabrasion, and laser surgery may be used if red lines caused by dilated blood vessels appear in the skin or if skin thickening develops.

Eye treatments

Oral antibiotics are used to treat most eye problems. If you get eyelid infections, you must clean them a lot. To clean your eyelids, some doctors suggest doing so gently with an over-the-counter eyelid cleaner or watered-down baby shampoo. After the cleaning, you should apply a warm (but not hot) compress a few times a day. If necessary, your doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops to help.

What Can People With Rosacea Do to Help Themselves?

You play a key role in taking care of your rosacea. Here are a few steps to take:

  • Write down when flares happen. Doing so can give you clues about what bothers your skin.
  • Every day, use a sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Don’t put irritating products on the face.
  • If you have eye problems, follow your doctor’s treatment plan

Look for warning signs of depression

Some people who have rosacea become depressed by the changes in the appearance of their skin. A doctor should be consulted if a person feels unusually sad or has other symptoms of depression, such as loss of appetite or trouble concentrating. Talk with a doctor if you feel sad or have other signs of depression.