For many people, flushed, red facial skin is a common, everyday occurrence that doesn’t go away. Although makeup might help for a while, break-through redness and even bumps may return daily or at intervals. These symptoms may be an indicator of rosacea, a common skin condition, and the good news is that it’s treatable. A dermatology practitioner in Sterling Heights can diagnose rosacea, and depending on the type, recommend a treatment regimen that will help.
Rosacea is characterized by redness, visible blood vessels in the face, and may also include small, pus-filled bumps. These symptoms may be present for weeks or months before they fade, and then return again. Although many people mistake rosacea for a natural ruddy complexion or other skin conditions such as acne, rosacea is a unique condition that can be readily diagnosed and treated. Although there is no cure for rosacea, treatment can reduce symptoms and frequency.
Rosacea is most common in middle-aged women with light skin; in fact, women are about three times more likely to develop rosacea but rosacea can affect anyone.
Types of Rosacea
There are four main types of rosacea, which can have different symptoms and affect different parts of the body:
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR): Symptoms include visibly dilated or swollen blood vessels, flushing, and red patches, especially on the nose and cheeks. Other symptoms of ETR rosacea include skin that feels hot and tender to the touch. ETR is the most common type of rosacea.
- Phymatous rosacea: Symptoms include a thickening of skin that results in a bumpy texture, sometimes on the nose. Rarely, people with rosacea of this type may also develop rhinophyma, a skin disorder characterized by a large, bumpy, red, or bulbous nose and/or cheeks. Rhinophyma with phymatous rosacea occurs mostly in men.
- Papulopustular rosacea: Symptoms include acne-like bumps on the face that can swell, form pustules, and resemble whiteheads.
- Ocular rosacea: Symptoms include eyes that are watery, appear bloodshot, or experience irritation, burning, or stinging. The eyes can also crust, or can become itchy, dry, or gritty. Eyelids can appear swollen and red. Less commonly, ocular rosacea can lead to inflammation of the cornea and possible vision loss, although this is rare. For some people, eye symptoms are a precursor to skin symptoms or other types of rosacea.
To diagnose rosacea, a dermatology practitioner in Grosse Pointe will perform a skin examination and take note of your medical history and symptoms. There is no specific test used to diagnose rosacea, but a dermatologist may want to test to rule out other skin or autoimmune conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or lupus that can sometimes cause symptoms similar to those caused by rosacea. If symptoms involve the eyes, a dermatologist may refer you to an ophthalmologist for further evaluation and treatment of ocular symptoms.
Although there is no cure for rosacea, avoiding triggers can prevent a recurrence of symptoms. Many different conditions can trigger an outbreak of rosacea including hot weather, sun exposure, humidity, wind, emotional stress, over-exercising, consumption of a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time, cold weather, hot baths or showers, spicy food, hot beverages, and harsh or irritating skin products.
Treatment for rosacea generally focuses on controlling symptoms, and is tailored to the type of rosacea involved. A dermatology practitioner in Sterling Heights can diagnose rosacea, and can create a customized treatment program that works. Treatment may include oral medications, over-the-counter skin care products, prescription ointments, or in-office treatments. If a doctor of dermatology in Grosse Pointe prescribes medication, the type of prescription will depend on the type of rosacea present and the signs and symptoms the patient is experiencing. Different combinations of medications or treatment options may be more effective than just one remedy.
Duration of treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and the type of rosacea diagnosed; since treatment merely controls symptoms, recurrence of rosacea is common. Below are some treatment options for mild to severe rosacea.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) options
People with rosacea often have sensitive skin, so choosing a mild cleanser and an alcohol-free moisturizer is important. Sun exposure can cause rosacea flare-ups, so sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is a daily requirement for many rosacea patients.
Temporary redness from rosacea inflammation can usually be improved somewhat with OTC remedies containing ingredients such as niacinamide and azelaic acid. However, these ingredients won’t permanently shrink visible blood vessels, so it’s usually best to consult a dermatologist to ask about other available treatment options.
- Prescription topicals
For mild to moderate rosacea, a dermatologist may prescribe a gel or cream which is applied to the affected skin. Metronidazole, an antibacterial cream, has been found to reduce populations of demodex, a genus of tiny mites that live in or near hair follicles of mammals, which can sometimes cause rosacea.
Vasoconstrictors are another class of prescription topicals that a dermatologist might prescribe; these topicals narrow blood vessels, making them less visible. Effects of vasoconstrictors can provide results within 12 hours after use, but the effect on blood vessels is temporary, so this medication needs to be regularly applied for continued relief.
- Oral medications
New medications to treat rosacea have been developed in recent years, but tried-and-true medications are still prescribed as well. Antibiotics such as Doxycycline are often used to treat all types of rosacea.
Ivermectin is an oral anti-parasite medication used to treat rosacea; this medication has been found to reduce demodex populations that sometimes cause rosacea.
If more severe rosacea does not respond well to traditional medication therapy, a dermatologist may prescribe other medications, such as isotretinoin, a powerful oral acne medication that also helps clear up the pimples and lesions caused by rosacea. Isotretinoin cannot be used during pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects; other medications may have side effects as well, so doctors need access to a complete medical history for each patient.
- In-office treatments
Laser therapy in a dermatologist’s office may be used to eliminate enlarged blood vessels on the surface of the skin that cause redness. Repeat treatments may be periodically indicated to maintain skin’s improved appearance. According to the American Association of Dermatology, patients can see up to a 75% reduction of visible blood vessels after one to three laser treatments.
Consult a dermatology practitioner in Sterling Heights or Grosse Pointe today to ask about rosacea diagnosis and treatment.