What is Rosacea?
Rosacea was once known as acne rosacea. It is no longer known by that name because it is unrelated to acne. Most treatments that are used to treat acne will no help rosacea and will in fact make it worse. Rosacea gets confused with many other skin conditions such as Eczema, Acne, Psoriasis and Dermatitis.
Rosacea is a chronic rash involving the central face that most often starts between the age of 30 and 60 years. It is common in those with fair skin, blue eyes and Celtic origins. It may be transient, recurrent or persistent and is characterised by the facial redness/flushing that it causes.
Symptoms of Rosacea
- Frequent Flushing/Blushing
- A red face due to constant flushing and prominent broken blood vessels. This is also called telangiectasia.
- Red papules and pustules on the nose, forehead, cheeks, then the chin. rosacea can occur on other parts of the body such as the neck and back but it not common.
- Skin becomes dry and flaky.
- Rosacea is aggravated by sun exposure, hot spicy food or hot and alcoholic drinks and stress.
- Skin becomes hypersensitive and burning and stinging can occur with skincare products, makeup and sunscreen.
- Eyes are often involved with rosacea and become sore, gritty and dry. The eyelid can develop papules and styes and the skin can thicken and become inflamed. This is also known as ocular rosacea.
- In severe rosacea, the skin of the nose becomes swollen red and pulpy. this is caused by enlarged sebaceous glands this is sometimes called rhinophyma. It is much more common in men than woman and while the exact cause is unknown it is considered a subtype of severe rosacea.
Diagnosis of Rosacea
Because rosacea and its symptoms are shared by many other skin disorders it is important to see a dermatologist for the correct diagnosis. Self-diagnosis when it comes to inflamed skin disorders can be dangerous. This is because the over-the-counter treatments that are good for rosacea can make eczema and psoriasis much worse.
Major Signs of Rosacea
The presence of either of these signs is diagnostic of rosacea.
- Persistent Redness Persistent facial redness is the most common individual sign of rosacea and may resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.
- Flushing/Blushing Many people with rosacea have a history of frequent blushing or flushing. This facial redness may be accompanied by a sense of heat and/or burning.
- Bumps and Pimples Small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples often develop. These may resemble acne. The difference is that acne has blackheads, rosacea does not and with rosacea, the pimples have a burning stinging sensation.
- Visible Blood Vessels/Broken Capillaries These become visible on the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead.
- Eye Irritation Is a very common symptom of rosacea. the eyes become irritated, dry and often bloodshot. The eyelids also may become red and swollen, and styes are common. Crusts and scale may accumulate around the eyelids or eyelashes.
Secondary Signs and Symptoms
These may appear with one or more of the diagnostic or major signs.
- Burning or Stinging Burning or stinging sensations may often occur on the face. Itching or a feeling of tightness may also develop.
- Swelling Facial swelling, known as oedema, may accompany other signs of rosacea or occur independently. Raised red patches, known as plaques, may develop without changes in the surrounding skin.
- Dryness The central facial skin may be rough, and appear scaly despite some patients complaining of oily skin.
In rare cases, rosacea signs and symptoms may also develop beyond the face, most commonly on the neck, chest, scalp or ears.
What Triggers Rosacea?
The ’cause’ of rosacea is unknown, although there are lots of theories. We will get to those in a moment.
What is known is that there are some common triggers that will make rosacea worse. These include:
- Exposure to UV rays
- Changes in temperature
- Exposure to skin irritants, when you have rosacea your skin is hyper senstive some many products you put on your skin will irritate it.
- Spicy food
There are several theories regarding the cause of rosacea, including genetic, environmental, a type of hair follicle mite and inflammatory factors. Although nothing has been found to conclusively be the cause of rasacea.
Skin damage due to chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation is definitely a part of the cause and ongoing issues with rosacea.
What Can Be Mistaken For Rosacea?
If you develop red, irritated and stinging skin on your face you need to see a dermatologist. the internet is no place to diagnose yourself when it comes to inflammatory skin conditions.
Let me be clear – we are not dermatologists and are in any way qualified to diagnose rosacea. We are researchers with an interest in skin and the care of it. The following information is a guide only. If you think you have rosacea or any of the other skin diseases listed here you need to see a dermatologist.
Because redness is a very common symptom with a lot of skin disease and issues rosacea gets confused with many other disorders. The most common being Lupus erythematosus, Eczema, Psoriasis and a few types of dermatitis. But roscaea is a condition by itself and its useful to compare rosacea to other skin diseases.
Rosacea vs Eczema
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. It is the most common inflammatory skin disease in the world. It affects about 20% of children worldwide and 3% of adults.
It usually starts between 3 – 6 months old 60% developing it before 1 year old and 90% by 5 years old.
Eczema presents on your skin as dryness AKA as Xerosis and rash that is usually very itchy, the medical term for this is Pruritus. It can cause skin thickening and hyperpigmentation of the skin, particularly in people with darker skin tones.
Interestingly eczema tends to cluster with other allergic types disorders such as hay fever, asthma and food allergies.
Eczema is characterised by remission and relapse with acute flare ups when triggered. Is found on the face, neck and hands arms and in the folds of elbows and knees. Doesn’t occur in the groin or armpits. Can also affect nails.
Rosacea Vs Psoriasis
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterised by clearly defined, red and scaly plaques (thickened skin). It is classified into several subtypes. Is classified as an immune mediated inflammatory disease (IMID)
Psoriasis usually presents with symmetrically distributed, red, scaly plaques with well-defined edges. The scale is typically silvery white, except in skin folds where the plaques often appear shiny and they may have a moist peeling surface. The most common sites are scalp, elbows and knees, but any part of the skin can be involved. The plaques are usually very persistent without treatment.
Itch is mostly mild but may be severe in some patients, leading to scratching and lichenification (thickened leathery skin with increased skin markings). Painful skin cracks or fissures may occur.
When psoriatic plaques clear up, they may leave brown or pale marks that can be expected to fade over several months.
Who gets psoriasis?
Psoriasis affects 2-4% of males and females. It can start at any age with peaks of onset at 15-25 years and 50-60 years. It tends to hang around for life. It fluctuates in extent and severity. About one-third of patients with psoriasis have family members who also have psoriasis.
Rosacea Vs Acne Vulgaris
What is Acne Vulgaris?
Acne vulgaris is the most common form of acne. It is given the name acne vulgaris (Vulgaris is Latin for common) to distinguish it from other less common types of acne.
You probably called is pimples, zits or breakouts. Acne most often affects the face but can be found of the neck chest and back. Acne is made in the pilosebaceous unit – that is the hair follicle with an associated oil gland.
The type of spots acne causes are:
- Papules – raised red bumps
- Pustules – raised bumps with a pus centre
- Nodules – Large painful red lumps
Acne also includes comedones, better known as blackheads and whiteheads.
Acne can become inflamed, painful and red. It is more common on oily skin and individual spots usually last less than 2 weeks.
Rosacea Vs Lupus Erythematosus
What is Lupus Erythematosus?
Lupus erythematosus (LE) is a connective tissue disease and autoimmune disorder that can affect one or several organs. Lupus is an immune disorder where your antibodies start to attack your organs. The symptoms of LE are many but it always affects the skin in some way.
LE affects the skin and causes:
- ‘Butterfly rash’ is a red rash that is spread over the cheeks like the wings of a butterfly.
- The rash can also appear on arms and form large thin plaques.
- A rash also appears on all recently sun-exposed skin, this is called photosensitivity.
Can You Get Rid Of Rosacea.
As you can see rosacea shares many symptoms with other skin diseases. Diagnosing which skin condition is effecting you needs to be done by a professional. Don’t try to treat anything until you know exactly what it is that you are dealing with.
Rosacea can be helped, but usually once you have it your stuck with it for life. There are many treatments from medial lasers and topical and internal medications that can dramatically improve the appearance of rosacea.
Reducing the symptoms and the severity of rosacea is also possible and very succesful.
Just make sure that it is rosacea that you are dealing with by seeking the opinion of a dermatologist.
Rosacea, like all skin diseases can cause huge psychological and emotional harm as well as physical trauma. There is help out there and you do not need to deal with this or any skin condition on your own.
Start by seeing a GP or your family doctor first.