How to Treat Rosacea

June 14, 2019

Rosacea is widely known as the facial skin rash that persistently flares up and disappears within weeks. It’s characterized by pimples, skin irritation or burning, swelling and flushed skin (reddening). When it affects the skin on the nose, the nose gets bulbous and red due to thickening and inflammation. The reason why it’s chronic is that there’s no cure.

This skin rash condition is common in adults, especially in women with fair skin. An estimated 1 in 20 Americans are affected by it at some point in their lives. Though the exact cause and cure are not known, science insists that both environmental and genetic factors cause it. Here are some facts about this condition.

  • Red swellings and pus-filled facial bumps characterize it
  • Persistently flushed and burning skin due to enlarged blood vessels is also a symptom
  • It has been linked to the dysfunctional immune, nervous and vascular system
  • Spicy foods, alcohol, stress, menopause and some dairy products can trigger rosacea

Rosacea, therefore, is not due to skin hygiene; hormonal change, cosmetics reactions, lifestyle, and stress, are the most common triggers. These days, stress affects us all -- be it lack of job security, sleep or downtime, or over-indulgence in caffeine, alcohol, and smoking to cope with the above.

Cortisol is the hormone the body releases due to stress, and it has the effect of causing inflammation to work its way up the skin's surface. Inflammation causes the walls of the pores to rupture, and pus is developed to release the bacteria clogging the skin. Stress also has the effect of causing overproduction of androgen that can lead to hormonal imbalance and skin breakouts.

Though there's no cure for rosacea, the National Rosacea Society (NRS) recommends several long-term measures. Foremost among them is education on stress management, lifestyle changes and medical treatments to reduce flare-ups and inflammation. These measures can broadly be divided into surgical and non-surgical means.

Non-surgical measures

1. Differentially applied topical creams and medications

Creams such as brimonidine and ivermectin can be used to treat bacterial infections and calm inflammation. Persistent local application of drugs to the affected area can help reduce skin microbes, heal raptured pores and reduce swelling and pus-filled bumps. Sunscreen is another cream that can be used to shield the skin from hot sun rays that trigger burning sensations and bacterial activity. Another medication is the use of eyedrops to alleviate eye reddening and blurred vision.

2. Oral antibiotics

Antibiotics such as tetracycline, doxycycline, and metronidazole fight bacteria in the blood preventing them from multiplying and breaking down the body's immune system. They're useful in treating acne and skin rashes. The effectiveness of these medications depends on the body's immune response, and the drug can be used simultaneously with topical skin creams for the combined healing effect.

3. Self-care tips

The NRS insists on education to help the patient understand that though rosacea is chronic and has no cure, it can be controlled using several self-help measures such as:

  • Avoiding flare-up triggers, e.g., by use of photoprotection and sunscreen, avoiding excessive alcohol drinking and smoking and managing stress.
  • Skin care using appropriate moisturizer and cleanser, e.g., if the skin is too sensitive, irritating creams should be avoided.
  • Avoiding medicines that can counter the effects of prescribed antibiotics. Calcium ions, for example, stop tetracycline from working.

Surgical methods

1. Laser therapy for vein treatment

Destroying the lining of dilated blood vessels is the only effective way to reduce inflammation and helps alleviate rosacea symptoms for months. It’s done by using a hand-held laser and targeting it to the affected blood vessels. The light penetrates through the tissue and causes inflammations to fade away and stimulate healing of raptured pores and cells. Laser therapy duration varies with individuals, but it can take 2-4 treatments to get results. Ablative laser therapy can be used to reshape and contour disfigured areas with less bleeding. A dermatologist privately does laser therapy, so a consultation is needed first.

2. Traditional surgery

The bulbous red nose can be treated using surgical methods. Remodeling of the nose, for example, requires the services of a plastic surgeon who begin by removing the excess tissue first. Dermabrasion is also another technique to remove thick outer layers from the skin and get a smooth texture.

The critical thing to note is that Rosacea is a persistent skin condition. Rushes can occur and disappear even during medication. Therefore, patients ought to manage their expectations. For example, it should be noted that it may take up to 4 weeks before the changes due to the treatment become visible. Also, check-ups are to be done after every 6 weeks to assess the effectiveness of the medication.

In conclusion, Rosacea manifests differently in patients. Consultation with the right doctor is, therefore, crucial in picking and adapting the treatment therapy to one's condition; an early diagnosis can help you get ahead of the disease with the correct medication and procedures.

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