Rosacea is a common condition that usually affects the face, particularly around the nose, chin, cheeks and forehead. It can also cause painful swelling around the eyes. Fair-skinned people from Northern Europe are most susceptible to rosacea, but it can develop in people of Asian and African descent. Although rosacea affects more women than men, men’s symptoms tend to be more severe.
At the Devonshire Clinic in Harley Street, London, our team of dermatologists can recommend different treatment options to help with rosacea.
What are the symptoms of rosacea?
The first thing that most people notice is that their face is often red. Many women put this down to a hot flush, a side effect of normal pre-menopause. The redness comes and goes but, as rosacea develops, the central part of the face becomes a darker shade of red and the skin can feel lumpy.
Other symptoms include:
- A burning or stinging sensation in the face
- Dilated blood vessels in the skin that are visible and obvious
- Bumps, spots and pustules
- Eye infections, dryness and sensitivity to light
Although spots may often occur in small clumps, they do not generally lead to any scarring.
What causes rosacea?
Several possible causes of rosacea have been suggested:
- Degeneration of blood vessels in the skin – this may be due to damage caused by sun exposure, which reduces the elasticity of the blood vessel walls as we age
- Activation of skin peptides – these are small proteins that appear to be produced in the skin as a response to exposure to many of the factors known to make rosacea worse (see below)
- Demodex folliculorum – these tiny mites are not parasites because they normally live on our skin without doing any harm. However, some research has suggested that rosacea occurs when the body reacts to the faeces of these mites
- Helicobacter pylori – this is a bacterium that is better known for causing stomach ulcers when it grows in the digestive system. It has been suggested that this infection changes the blood vessels in the skin, contributing to rosacea.
Factors that can make rosacea worse
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light – sunbathing or using a sunbed
- Alcohol consumption – red wine seems to be a particular culprit
- Stress and anxiety
- Hot and spicy foods
- Extremes of temperature – going out into the cold from a warm room can cause rosacea to flare up. Hot baths and saunas can also make the condition worse
Why it is important to treat rosacea
Being red in the face is, literally, embarrassing.
In someone in early middle age, feeling constantly flushed can get in the way of work and social interaction and, like many skin conditions, can lead to a loss of confidence and self-esteem.
Having a flushed face can be misinterpreted as the result of drinking excessive alcohol. For people who give up alcohol as part of their treatment, this can be particularly annoying, as explanations about rosacea will often be met by ridicule.
Rosacea can also cause long-term damage to the skin. Some people go on to develop rhinophyma, a condition that causes the nose to become red and bulbous. Men are more commonly affected by rhinophyma than women.
Our consultants can diagnose and treat rosacea and rhinophyma, lessening the impact on your life and enabling you to face the world without embarrassment.