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Rosacea Treatment

Rosacea (rose-AY-sha) is a chronic (long-term) skin disease that causes redness and swelling, primarily on the face. Other areas that can be affected are the scalp, neck, ears, chest and back. Sometimes, rosacea affects the eyes.

Those afflicted with rosacea may first notice a tendency to flush or blush easily. The condition can occur over a long period of time and often progresses to a persistent redness, pimples and visible blood vessels in the center of the face that can eventually involve the cheeks, forehead, chin and nose.

Since rosacea causes facial swelling and redness, it is easily confused with other skin conditions, such as acne and sunburn. For this reason, rosacea is known as the “great pretender,” and often incorrectly referred to as “adult acne.”

Who Gets Rosacea?

Rosacea affects an estimated 14 million Americans. Adults, especially those between 30 and 50 years of age who have lighter skin, blonde hair and blue eyes, are most likely to suffer from rosacea. However, rosacea can affect children and people of any skin type.

 Rosacea is often passed on in families, with women being afflicted more often than their male counterparts. Men, however, often get more severe forms of rosacea. For women with rosacea, increased flushing and blushing may occur around and during menopause.

Famous rosacea sufferers include W.C. Fields and former President Bill Clinton, both often captured on film with the classic mid-face redness and bumpiness of rosacea. These classic signs of rosacea are often misidentified as 78 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup survey, do not know that rosacea exists.

Psychological Effects

Some believe the social and emotional effects of rosacea are worse than the physical symptoms. In one survey, 1 nearly 70 percent of rosacea patients said it lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem. Forty-one percent said the condition caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements.


While the precise cause of rosacea remains a mystery, researchers believe that heredity and environmental factors are to blame. One explanation is that something causes the blood vessels to swell. The result, these scientists believe, is the flushing and redness characteristic of rosacea.

Another theory is that a mite called Demodex folliculorum, which lives in hair follicles, could be a cause of rosacea. The belief is that the mites clog oil glands, which leads to the inflammation seen in rosacea. Others believe that a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, which causes intestinal infection, might be a cause.

The immune system also has been implicated as playing a role in rosacea’s development.

Rosacea Treatment

To treat rosacea, a dermatologist first identifies the subtype or subtypes of rosacea that are present on the patient’s skin. This diagnosis is crucial because each subtype has its own unique signs and symptoms, which often require different therapies. The following links provide information about the different treatments used for each rosacea subtype:

  • Redness, Flushing, and Visible Blood Vessels

    Subtype: Erythematotelangiectatic type rosacea

  • Bumps and Pus-filled Lesions

    Subtype: Papulopustular rosacea

  • Thickening Skin

    Subtype: Phymatous rosacea

  • Eye Problems

    Subtype: Ocular rosacea

The best advice for anyone who thinks that he or she may have rosacea is to see a dermatologist as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can control the signs and symptoms of rosacea so that rosacea is usually not visible or uncomfortable. Early treatment also may stop rosacea from progressing.

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