It is thought that up to 10% of the population experiences rosacea to some degree. It affects women more than men, and people with fair skin of Celtic or European ancestry more than those with Asian or African origins.
Rosacea usually appears on the face, characteristically around the nose, cheeks and across the forehead. Sufferers may experience a burning or stinging sensation, flushing of the skin, pimples, visible capillaries, and facial swelling as a result of the condition. It also possible to experience erythema: a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks, blepharitis: a feeling of having grit in the eyes, ocular rosacea and a thickening of the skin. In extreme cases the nose can become bulbous – called rhinophyma.
The condition is usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50, and more regularly in women around the time of the menopause when hot flashes can trigger symptoms. Rosacea often varies in severity over time, with periods where symptoms improve and even disappear, and times when they are much worse. There is no known cure for rosacea, but the symptoms can be controlled.
The cause of rosacea is unknown, but there are some commonly acknowledged triggers that exacerbate symptoms, such as:
Recent evidence suggests that rosacea may be caused by a microscopic skin mite called Demodex folliculorum, which live on the skin of many humans and mammals. When these tiny mites die, they release bacteria, which aggravates the skin of rosacea sufferers and can trigger the most serious form of the condition - papulopustular rosacea.
As with any condition that affects the sufferer’s appearance, rosacea can have a significant impact on self-confidence.
Traditional treatments for rosacea include topical creams and lotions, oral antibiotics, laser and intense pulsed light (IPL), which involves using beams of light to reduce the size of blood vessels and make them less visible.
Occasionally rosacea suffers are prescribed low doses of Isotretinion or Roaccutane which are used to treat acne. Some sufferers can be prescribed beta-blockers or clonidine, which can help relax blood vessels, and some may be prescribed anxiety medication to help reduce blushing.
Although not always easy, the most natural solution to rosacea is to try and reduce the triggers that will cause aggravation. Maintain a good, gentle skincare routine, moisturise the skin and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.