Rosacea

Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common skin condition that causes redness in the face and often produces small, red, pus-filled bumps. Although rosacea can occur in anyone, it most commonly affects middle-aged women who have fair skin.

Left untreated, rosacea tends to worsen over time. Rosacea signs and symptoms may flare up for a period of weeks to months and then diminish before flaring up again. Rosacea can be mistaken for acne, an allergic reaction or other skin problems.

Description of Condition

Signs and symptoms of rosacea may include:

  • Facial redness. Rosacea usually causes a persistent redness in the central portion of your face. Small blood vessels on the nose and cheeks often swell and become visible.
  • Swollen red bumps. Many people who have rosacea also develop bumps on the face that resemble acne. These bumps sometimes contain pus. The skin may feel hot and tender.
  • Eye problems. About half of the people who have rosacea also experience eye dryness, irritation and swollen, reddened eyelids. In some people, rosacea's eye symptoms precede the skin symptoms.
  • Enlarged nose. Rarely, rosacea can thicken the skin on the nose, causing the nose to appear bulbous (rhinophyma). This occurs more often in men than in women.

Common Treatment Options

Although there's no cure for rosacea, treatments can control and reduce the signs and symptoms. Most often this requires a combination of prescription treatments and certain lifestyle changes on your part.

Medications

Prescription drugs used for rosacea may include:

  • Antibiotics. The antibiotics used for rosacea also have anti-inflammation effects. They may come in the form of creams, gels or lotions to spread on the affected skin or in pills that you swallow. Antibiotic pills are generally more effective in the short term, but they can also cause more side effects.
  • Acne drugs. If antibiotics don't work, your doctor might suggest trying isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis, others). This powerful drug is most commonly used for severe cystic acne, but it also often helps clear up acne-like lesions of rosacea. Don't use this drug during pregnancy, as it can cause serious birth defects.

The duration of your treatment depends on the type and severity of your symptoms, but typically you'll notice an improvement within one to two months. Because symptoms may recur if you stop taking medications, long-term regular treatment is often necessary.

Surgical and other procedures

Enlarged blood vessels, some redness, and changes due to rhinophyma often become permanent. In these cases, surgical methods, such as laser surgery and electrosurgery, may reduce the visibility of blood vessels, remove tissue buildup around your nose, and generally improve your appearance.