A common, but often less talked about, skin condition has been in the news recently, with Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon announcing that she suffers from rosacea. You have likely heard of the condition and may even know someone who has it. Rosacea is more common than you might think – 16 million Americans have rosacea, but only 22 percent of U.S. citizens have knowledge about the condition. Today we are breaking down the science, symptoms and statistics to give you a better understanding of this common skin condition.
What is it?
Rosacea is a skin disease that causes acne-like sores, swelling and redness. There is no known cause, but several groups are more likely to suffer from rosacea, including:
- Those who have fair skin
- People ages 30-50
What causes it?
There is no known cause of rosacea, but there are several factors that can trigger or worsen flare-ups, including:
- Hot weather. Avoid being outdoors for extended periods of time when the temperature is high.
- Sun and wind exposure. Avoid direct sun exposure; if you must be outside for extended periods of time, stay in the shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat and always use sunscreen (choose a formula that is at least SPF 15 and blocks both UVA and UVB rays).
- Stress. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga can help combat stress-related triggers.
- Spicy foods, alcohol and hot drinks. Limit your consumption of these foods and drinks to reduce your chances of a flare-up.
- Very hot or very cold baths or showers. Again, limiting these activities can help reduce your rosacea symptoms. When you wash your face, use gentle products formulated for sensitive skin or rosacea, and never harshly rub or scrub your skin. Acne treatments will not effectively treat rosacea, despite similar symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
- Sores that are often mistaken for acne blemishes. These sores can ooze or crust.
- Burning or stinging on the face
- Irritated, red or watery eyes
- A red nose
- Blushing easily or quickly becoming flushed when you exercise or are overheated
- Spider-like blood vessels on the face
- Left untreated, rosacea can develop into rhinophyma, which causes bumps on the cheeks and nose.
If you suspect you suffer from rosacea, see your doctor. He or she may refer you to a dermatologist or recommend one of the following options to control your symptoms:
- Antibiotic pills or creams
- Medications like isoretinol (similar to vitamin A)
- Dermabrasion, laser surgery or cryosurgery
If you suffer from rosacea, you may be embarrassed about your symptoms. However, there are many easy ways to control flare-ups. Talk with your doctor about the best options for you.