How Do I Know if I Have Rosacea?
Rosacea is a common inflammatory skin disease that is often misdiagnosed as acne or eczema. The early signs of rosacea are often missed, as many people may simply believe they have a tendency to blush more easily than other people.
The blush associated with rosacea might start in the cheeks, giving a person a rosy complexion. However, in some people the redness can spread past the cheeks to the nose, forehead and chin. In some cases, the blush can even spread to the ears, chest and back.
Symptoms of rosacea tend to be more common in fair-skinned people. It’s estimated that around 5% of Americans, or around 14 million people are affected by the condition.
A survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society discovered that almost 70% of people with the skin condition reported having reduced self-esteem and self-confidence. They tended to feel embarrassed by their tendency to blush more easily than other people, which increased the risk of developing symptoms of anxiety or depression.
What Causes Rosacea?
Research hasn’t been able to determine the exact cause of rosacea. However, dermatologists suggest a number of factors that could increase the risk of developing the condition.
Genetics could be responsible for up to 40% of rosacea outbreaks. People with a family history of the skin condition are more likely to experience symptoms at some point in their lives.
In some people, a microscopic mite known as demodex folliculorum could be the trigger. The mite lives naturally on human skin and usually doesn’t cause any problems. However, if mite numbers are unusually high they could cause skin inflammation that can lead to rosacea.
In other cases, a specific type of bacteria found in the gut, known as h. pylori bacteria, causes the stomach to produce a protein that makes blood vessels dilate.
Other factors that dermatologists consider might aggravate or increase the risk of making symptoms of rosacea worse are mostly environment or lifestyle-based.
Some of these include:
- Certain types of medications, such as corticosteroids or hypertension (high blood pressure) medication
- High humidity
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Hot baths and steam
- Vigorous exercise
- Hot caffeinated drinks
- Spicy foods
- Uncontrolled stress levels
Types of Rosacea
Not all rosacea symptoms are the same in each person. In fact, the skin condition can be classified into three separate sub-types. Each different sub-type requires different treatments to reduce the appearance of symptoms, so it’s important to have skin checked by a dermatologist.
The four different sub-types of rosacea and the individual symptoms are:
Sub-type 1: Facial Redness
- Redness or flushed cheeks and nose
- Spider veins or broken blood vessels in the cheeks or sides of the nose
- Inflamed skin
- Dry, sensitive skin
Sub-type 2: Acne and Pimples
- Persistent facial redness
- Acne-like breakouts and pimples
- Red pustules, or pus-filled bumps
- Sensitive skin that may burn or sting
- Patchy skin that can appear like raised scales
- Visible broken blood vessels
Sub-type 3: Thickening Skin
- Existing symptoms of another rosacea sub-type already apparent
- Enlarged pores
- Thickening skin on or around the nose, cheeks, chin, forehead and ears
- Visible broken blood vessels
- Skin develops a rough, bumpy texture
- Swollen skin on the end of the nose
Sub-type 4: Eye Irritation
Rosacea can affect the eyes in some people. Ocular rosacea might need to be treated by a doctor who specializes in treating eye conditions. Symptoms include:
- Bloodshot, watery eyes
- Burning or stinging in the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Visible broken blood vessels on an eyelid
- Gritty, irritated sensation in the eye
Is Rosacea Contagious?
Rosacea is not an infectious disease, so it is not considered contagious. You can’t catch it from someone with symptoms and other people certainly cannot catch it from you.
Does Rosacea Get Worse?
Rosacea symptoms can get progressively worse if the condition is left untreated. While there is no cure for the condition, it is possible to treat existing symptoms and manage any future flare-ups that occur.
A person who takes care to treat existing symptoms properly and make some lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of further flare-ups can slow down the progression of the disease.
Can You Cure Rosacea?
At present there is no cure for rosacea. However, the symptoms can be treated and ongoing flare-ups can be managed.
One of the most effective ways to manage the condition is to identify your own unique rosacea triggers. Each person’s flare-ups may be triggered by different factors, so it’s important to know what environmental or lifestyle factors play a part in symptoms emerging.
A survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society found that 96% of people with the condition found it easier to reduce the number of flare-ups once they had identified their own personal trigger factors and made the appropriate lifestyle changes to suit.
If you suspect you have rosacea, don’t ignore the symptoms, as it could make the condition worse. Instead, make an appointment with your doctor to have your skin checked properly and start looking for triggers that could be behind each rosacea flare-up you experience.