What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a common inflammatory condition that causes redness and acne type lesions and an overall “flushed appearance”. It usually presents itself on the cheeks and nose, and sometimes on the forehead and chin.

Rosacea is a tricky condition to diagnose because it looks like other skin issues. It masquerades as a ruddy complexion, acne, or even post-workout redness. A dermatologist looks for specific criteria when it comes to diagnosis one of the four types of rosacea including:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic, the mildest form of rosacea and consists of little tiny red or purple streaks or swollen blood vessels across the nose, cheeks, and/or forehead.
  • Papulopustular rosacea is the combination of red bumps (papules) and white bumps with pus inside them (pustules) and typically appears across the nose, cheeks, forehead, scalp and chin.
  • Rhinophyma, causes the nose to enlarge, turn bright red and results in a bumpy, inflamed texture.
  • Ocular rosacea, often begins with the feeling of red, irritated eyes and is described as a gritty feeling, like dirt is stuck in their eye.

What Causes Rosacea?

The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, but factors that can trigger inflammation are:

  • Heat
  • Spicy foods
  • Stress
  • Cold wind
  • Alcohol

If you have acne in addition to rosacea, it’s especially hard to notice because your skin is already red-toned from acne.

Consider how easily your skin becomes flushed:

  • How does your skin respond after a workout?
  • What happens to your skin when you’re embarrassed?
  • How long does it take for redness to fade?

If you have rosacea, you’re going to stay flushed longer than the typical person. For example, for most people redness fades within an hour of working out; people with rosacea stay red for much longer.

What Are the Treatment Options for Rosacea?

Erythematotelangiectatic Treatment

Erythematotelangiectatic treatment includes topical creams to help soothe the inflammation of the skin and oral antibiotics to reduce internal inflammation.

Additionally, there are laser therapy options, such as Pulse Dye Lasers (PDL) and Intense-Pulse Light (IPL) lasers to reduce the appearance of broken blood vessels which may cause bruising without the skin being cut.

After a laser treatment, you may notice some bruising that lasts up to two weeks. Sometimes, as we start minimizing overall redness with laser therapy, other blood vessels become more visible. You’ll likely need multiple treatments depending on the severity and how many blood vessels appear after the first treatment, but overtime, redness will reduce significantly.

Papulopustular Rosacea Treatment

This mild-to-moderate rosacea is treated topically and orally with creams and medications to reduce the inflammation.

Occasionally, patients experience a painful, red bump as a result of this type of rosacea. If this happens, the inflammatory papule can be injected it with a steroid to shrink and can heal the papule much faster than topicals or oral medications.

Rhinophyma Rosacea Treatment

Like all forms of rosacea, we begin treatment with topical and oral antibiotics to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation.

For more severe cases of rhinophyma, care is coordinated with a plastic surgeon to treat the area with a laser therapy or cosmetic surgery that shaves off the extra layers of skin that have been altered into a bumpy appearance. These treatments allow us to re-sculpt the nose back to its normal shape.

Ocular Rosacea Treatment

For this specific type of rosacea, your treatment plan will start with a referral to an ophthalmologist who can help you treat this eye disorder and a dermatologist can stay involved to manage care if needed. Untreated, this kind of rosacea can result in progressive visual loss or eye complications.

A combination of oral antibiotics is used to reduce inflammation in addition to eye drops to relieve redness and discomfort. Your ophthalmologist will monitor your eye health and make sure the condition is optimally treated.

FAQ’s About Rosacea

Will Insurance Cover My Rosacea Treatment?

Rosacea is a medical diagnosis, not a cosmetic term, but the majority of oral and topical rosacea treatment medications will be covered by your insurance. If your rosacea is severe, make sure to work with your dermatologist so it’s documented properly for insurance purposes.

However, most vasoconstrictor medications are not well-covered by insurance, and certain laser treatments will be considered cosmetic rather than medical intervention.

What Daily Facial Products Are Okay to Use if I Have Rosacea?

People with rosacea tend to have very sensitive skin, so daily maintenance is encouraged. Use gentle, bland moisturizers, and sunscreens to keep skin comfortable and avoid irritation from the sun.

To cover up the redness of rosacea, green-tinted makeup is often a good choice because green counteracts red and can calm the overall tone for a more natural appearance.

If you’re unsure about what facials products to use, contact your dermatologist to evaluate the best options for you.

What Should I Not Do if I Have Rosacea?

If you notice red bumps on your skin, resist the urge to scratch them. Rosacea can be itchy and uncomfortable. As tempting as it can be, never pick at your skin, whether you have acne or rosacea. If you do, you could leave yourself with sores and scarring.

Additional Resources

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