Difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to live with, in the past few years more and more people have been coming to see me for help with rosacea.
What is it exactly? Rosacea is a long term skin condition that causes facial redness and flushing. It often appears in our thirties and is more likely to occur in individuals with fair skin, however it can affect all ages, sexes and skin types. There are a number of factors believed to contribute to the development of rosacea. These include genetics, blood vessel abnormalities, hormonal influences, microorganisms and diet. Although it is actually pretty common, rosacea is still poorly understood. Frustratingly for sufferers, there is typically a long delay in getting the correct diagnosis because lots of doctors do not recognise the symptoms. Sadly, it is not unusual for new patients to the clinic to tell me that they have tried all sorts of ineffectual, and sometimes inappropriate, treatments before coming to see me for the first time.
So what’s the big deal? Isn’t this just a cosmetic issue? Rosacea is more than just a red face. It often begins with a tendency to flush or blush more easily. With time, some people develop more permanent redness of the nose and cheeks along with a multitude of other unpleasant symptoms. Some of the typical symptoms that my patients tell me about include rough, bumpy skin, dryness and scaling, pimples, burning and stinging when washing their faces or applying creams and sensitivity to multiple skin care products.
Broadly speaking there are four different types of rosacea, but it is not uncommon for these to overlap in the same person. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea causes redness, flushing and dilated blood vessels. Papulopustular rosacea causes acne-like breakouts. Phymatous rosacea gives rise to skin swelling and thickening, for example of the nose. This is known as rhinophyma and is one of the most feared features of the condition. Ocular rosacea causes gritty eyes and swollen lids.
As rosacea is such a visible condition, people often tell me that they feel anxious or embarrassed about their appearance. The outcome of this may be that they have started to withdraw from social situations, to shy away from loved ones or avoid personal relationships or they may have experienced loss of self-esteem in the workplace. Many have already spent lots of money on skincare products to try and calm their skin or feel the need to wear heavy makeup to conceal the redness. Some may even be too embarrassed to ask for help, or may have been turned away when seeking advice through the usual routes as the psychological impact of all of this is grossly underestimated.At present there is no cure for rosacea, however in the hands of a dermatologist who is interested and experienced in treating the condition, there are a number of effective prescriptions and procedures that can help bring symptoms under control and keep them in check. The choice of treatment depends on the type of rosacea and, of course, patient preference. Crucial to maintaining results in the longer term are being empowered to identify and avoid your specific triggers and having a good skincare routine that you can rely on. This is how I can help you feel better about your skin, both now and in the future.