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Managing Rosacea

If you are experiencing a reddening of the face, it may not be normal blushing. Rosacea is a common skin disorder that affects almost 13 million Americans. Often misdiagnosed as adult acne, the skin disorder often entails a reddening of facial skin, outbreaks of papules, and extreme redness after overheating or prolonged sun exposure. Rosacea is a chronic condition that has no medical cure, but it is manageable with a combination of treatment and lifestyle modification.

Who is prone to developing rosacea?

Rosacea is most common in fair skinned people who blush easily, usually of Northern European origin. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed than men, particularly menopausal women who flush frequently because of fluctuating body temperatures. In addition to menopausal women, the onset on symptoms often occurs in the teens and twenties. Although men are less likely to develop the condition they are more likely to have more pronounced enlargement of the nose over time due to hyperplasia. As people who blush easily are more prone to developing rosacea, some researchers suspect the disorder may be related to vascular dilation - particularly since one of the first symptoms is prolonged reddening of the face. Additional early symptoms may include skin dryness or tightness. Later symptoms include puffiness in the check area and skin eruptions.

How do I know if I have rosacea?

A doctor will diagnose rosacea by conducting a physical examination and reviewing patient history. Sudden onset of rosacea related symptoms could indicate other medical conditions so it is best to consult a medical professional. In making a diagnosis your doctor will seek to rule out other dermatological conditions, lupus erythematosus, and allergic reactions among other conditions.

What triggers a flare-up?

The symptoms of rosacea are not always noticeable. However, specific triggers have been identified that contribute to the onset of noticeable symptoms. Food and beverage related triggers include:

alcoholic beverages
hot beverages
spicy, pickled, marinated, or smoked foods
certain fresh fruits including citrus fruits and bananas
certain dried fruits including raisins and figs
dairy products
certain vegetables including tomatoes, avocados, and spinach
peas and lima beans
soy sauce and vinegar
chocolate and vanilla flavoring

Lifestyle related triggers include:

prolonged exposure to sun, wind, heat, cold, or humidity
stress
elevated body temperature
certain personal care products including hairspray and cosmetics
certain chemicals and drugs
smoking and being exposed to smoke

What can the doctor do for me?

A doctor will normally prescribe a course of antibiotics after diagnosis. A combination of oral and topical antibiotics may be prescribed in order to bring skin eruptions under control. A long-term treatment of topical antibiotics may be prescribed to help keep breakouts in remission. An oral hypertensive agent may also be prescribed to topically treat blushing associated with overheating. Emotionally triggered blushing is often treated with beta adrenergic blockers. Laser treatment may be an option for those with an enlarged nose or the permanent dilation of small blood vessels.

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