Red face? Could be rosacea

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We’ve all seen someone with rosacea, a chronic skin condition that can cause facial redness, bumps, pimples, thick skin and even bloodshot eyes.

Many Americans, mostly aged 30 to 50, have rosacea to some degree. Many people mistake the flushing and appearance of pimples as a recurrence of a skin problem from their teen years. Outbreaks on the cheeks and nose are common. However, it can also be seen on the forehead, neck and back.

Experts don’t know what causes rosacea. Risk factors include having fair skin that blushes easily. Any ethnic group can develop rosacea, although it is more common in people of northern and western European descent with a fair complexion. Women are three times more likely to develop the disease, but men often have more severe symptoms.

Over time, the redness of the skin becomes more noticeable and blood vessels may be seen. If untreated, symptoms such as bumps and pimples may develop. The nose may also become swollen. Rarely, the eyes are involved.

There is a high emotional impact for people with rosacea. Many people with the condition suffer from anxiety, anger and depression. Stress plays a big role in recurrence and worsening of symptoms. Therefore, the cycle of symptoms and frustration makes this disease seem hopeless to many. Although rosacea has no cure, effective treatments are available. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out which treatment is best for you.

Treatment includes the following:

  • Avoiding triggers, including stressful situations
  • Washing skin with mild soap and tepid or cool water
  • Using moisturizers and sunscreens
  • Drinking cool water
  • Using a cool towel on the face after working out
  • Makeup, particularly with a green tint, may be used to hide the redness
  • Prescription gels, creams, lotions and antibiotics
  • Lasers and other light therapy can treat some forms of rosacea

Always check your insurance coverage, as some procedures may be considered cosmetic.

For more information on this and other topics, visit University Health System’s Health Library