Rosacea (roz-ay-sha) is a very common benign skin disorder that affects many people worldwide. As of 2008, it is estimated to affect at least 14 million people in the United States alone. The main symptoms of this facial condition include red or pink patches, visible broken blood vessels, small red bumps, red cysts, and pink or irritated eyes. Most people with the disease may not even know they have rosacea or that it is a diagnosable and treatable condition. Many patients may just assume they blush easily or have gotten sunburned.
Rosacea is considered a chronic (long-term), non-curable skin disease with periodic ups and downs. As opposed to traditional acne, most adult patients do not "outgrow" rosacea. It characteristically involves the central region of the face, causing persistent redness or transient flushing over the areas of the face and nose that normally blush - mainly the forehead, the chin and the lower half of the nose. It is commonly seen in people with fair or light skin, and particularly in those of Irish and Scottish backgrounds.
The redness, often aggravated by flushing, may cause small blood vessels in the face to enlarge (dilate) and become more visible through the skin, appearing like tiny red lines (called telangiectasias). Continual or repeated episodes of flushing may promote inflammation, causing red bumps that resemble teenage acne. In fact, rosacea can frequently be mistaken for common acne. Rosacea is also referred to as acne rosacea.
The exact cause of rosacea is still unknown and remains a mystery. The basic process seems to involve dilation of the small blood vessels of the face. Suspected causes of rosacea include but are not limited to genetic factors, genetics plus sun exposure, a mite sometimes found in hair follicles (Demodex folliculorum), the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (that is associated with stomach ulcers), gastrointestinal disease, and medications that cause blood vessels to widen. There seems to be a hereditary component in some people.
Rosacea tends to affect the "blush" areas of the face and is more common in people who flush easily. Additionally, a variety of triggers are known to cause rosacea to flare. Emotional factors (stress, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, etc.) may trigger blushing and aggravate rosacea. A flare-up can be caused by changes in the weather like strong winds or a change in the humidity. Sun exposure and sun-damaged skin is generally associated with rosacea. Exercise, alcohol consumption, emotional upsets, and spicy food are other well-known triggers that may aggravate rosacea. Many patients may also notice flares around the holidays, particularly Christmas and New Year's holidays.
There are many treatment choices for rosacea depending on the severity and extent of symptoms. Available medical treatments include antibacterial washes, topical creams, antibiotic pills, lasers, pulsed-light treatments, resistant cases may require a combination approach, using several of the treatments at the same time. A combination approach may include home care of washing or applying an antibacterial cream morning and night, and a series of in-office laser, intense pulsed light, or photodynamic therapies may also be used in combination with the home regimen. It is advisable to have a consult for the proper evaluation and treatment of rosacea.
Laser and intense pulsed light
Many patients are now turning to laser and intense-light treatments to treat the continual redness and noticeable blood vessels on the face, neck, and chest. Often considered a safe alternative, laser and intense pulse-light therapy may help to visibly improve the skin and complexion.
Laser treatment may cause some discomfort. While most patients are able to endure the procedure, ice packs and topical anesthetic cream can help alleviate the discomfort. Multiple treatments are typically necessary and the procedure is not covered by most insurances. Treatments are recommended in three- to six-week intervals; during this time, sun avoidance is necessary. Risk, benefits, and alternatives should be reviewed with your physician prior to treatment. Laser treatments may be combined with light therapy and chemical peel for more noticeable results.
Chemical peels may additionally help to improve and control rosacea in some patients. The chemical peels can professionally be applied at MCC Toronto Laser Hair Removal Clinic for approximately 30 minutes every two to four weeks. Mild stinging, itching, or burning may occur and some patients experience peeling for several days after the peel.
Sun exposure is a known flare for some rosacea sufferers. Sun protection using a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreens are generally encouraged. Because rosacea tends to occur in mostly fair-skinned adults, the use of an appropriate daily sunscreen lotion and overall sun avoidance is recommended. Zinc-based sunscreens (SPF 30 or higher) may provide adequate sun protection.