Are red faces always caused by rosacea?
Although rosacea is common, it is not the only cause of red faces. Any condition that causes an increased blood flow to the top part of the skin can give the appearance of a red face. These may include chronic sun damage, sunburn, inflammation of the skin due to eczema, seborrheic dermatitis or allergies, and other rarer skin conditions. Sometimes, two or more conditions may co-exist which can complicate the diagnosis and management further. Getting the right treatment will depend on having the correct diagnosis in the first instance, so that appropriate treatment can be prescribed. Instead of trying to self-diagnose and self-medicate with the help of the internet, it is always best to seek the advice of a trained Dermatologist.
What are the signs of rosacea?
Most patients with rosacea will notice that their skin is red and sensitive, often flushing easily to triggers such as sun exposure, heat, spicy foods or alcohol. An increased number of spider like blood vessels can be seen on the cheeks and around the nose. Over time, red angry spots that look like acne may appear. In severe cases, there may be frequent burning and stinging of the face associated with bloodshot watery eyes.
Is there a cure for rosacea?
Although it is not yet possible to completely cure rosacea, it is usually responsive to the correct treatment and can be very well controlled. In addition to the skin changes, patients may sometimes notice redness and grittiness of their eyes when their condition is complicated by ocular rosacea. An eye doctor can help provide relief for such symptoms. Patients may also be concerned they may have a progressive condition and worry about the development of rhinophyma, where the skin around the nose becomes bumpy and thickened. This is in fact a fairly uncommon complication and usually more often seen in men.
What are the treatments for rosacea?
Your Dermatologist will assess your individual condition and recommend the most suitable treatment regime for you. In general, a simple, gentle cleansing and moisturising routine in combination with daily sunscreen should form the basic skincare of all rosacea patients. Refrain from spending a lot of money trying different skincare products. Rosacea patients can be easily irritated by products with too many different strong ingredients. Although these products may work wonders for people with normal skin, rosacea patients may find themselves red and flushed shortly after use. Although it is tempting to use steroid creams or even steroid tablets to treat rosacea as they do provide an effective quick fix, in the long term, it can lead to rebound, worsening of symptoms and thinning of the skin. In addition to a gentle skincare routine, evidence based treatments we recommend would be:
Topical creams - there are several effective creams available, some of which are very new to the market. Some help to vasoconstrict (shut down) the vessels at the top part of the skin to reduce general redness. Other anti-inflammatory creams can be used to help with the red angry spots often seen in rosacea patients. These are prescription only products that your Dermatologist can discuss further with you.
Oral medicines – antibiotics in the tetracycline family are often used to treat rosacea where there are a lot of inflammatory red spots or pustules. Stronger medicines such as isotretinoin can also be used if required. These are usually highly effective in controlling the inflammatory lesions. Lasers – VBEAM or the pulsed dye laser is a vascular laser that targets the vessels in our skin. This is a particularly effective laser for reducing redness and treating the broken capillaries often seen on rosacea skin. Often 5 monthly sessions are recommended as a start and maintenance sessions may be required. Other gentler lasers such as the Excel V 532nm KTP laser can also be used to improve the skin redness, texture and tone.
Although rosacea is a harmless condition, it is often debilitating for the patient as it can cause visible redness, spots and flushing. This can lead to a lower self-esteem and confidence for those affected, and greatly impact their social and professional lives. It is common for rosacea patients to feel lost and desperate to try any and all treatments in the hope that something may work. Do see a trusted Dermatologist to achieve good control of this chronic skin condition effectively and safely.