By Steven T. Powell, MD and Dori Hite,MPAS,PA-C –
We’ve all been there: an embarrassed moment, an extra hard work out, a brief loss of temper. It happens to the best of us, and even the best of us have suffered from the occasional red face. But what about those who find themselves experiencing persistent, progressive and often embarrassing facial redness? When is a red face more than just a red face?
Rosacea (pronounced “roh-ZAY-sha”) is a common cause of facial redness. It is a chronic skin condition that results in inflammation of the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. Many times rosacea begins as facial redness (called erythema) that initially comes and goes. Over time, however, the redness becomes more persistent. Visible blood vessels on the cheeks and nose may appear and become permanent. Red bumps and pimples may develop, and in severe cases the skin can become thickened and bumpy. Rosacea patients will often report their skin feels warm or that is stings and becomes easily irritated. In some rosacea patients, the eyes may even be affected, causing irritation, redness, and a “foreign body sensation” in the eye.
Rosacea is most common in fair skinned individuals, but it can develop in people with any skin color. This condition is diagnosed more frequently in women, but men often have more severe symptoms. Rosacea patients will often have periodic flares when the disease becomes much more symptomatic. There are many different triggers that might contribute to these flares, but some of the more common ones include sun exposure, hot or spicy foods and drinks, alcohol consumption, heat (including hot baths), and menopause.
Although there is not a cure for rosacea, there are a variety of treatments currently available. Various oral and topical medications have been shown to be particularly effective at treating the papular (or pimple like) component of rosacea. Facial redness and dilated blood vessels on the face are often addressed with light based treatments such as Intense Pulsed Light. A new and unique cream designed specifically to target facial redness has recently been approved by the FDA and is now available with a prescription. Professional skin care products containing antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories such as feverfew and green tea are often beneficial. Finally, a thorough skin care regimen for rosacea will also include regular use of sunscreen and gentle
cleansers to avoid further skin irritation.
Rosacea and facial erythema is more than just a cosmetic issue. Left untreated, it is possible that the redness associated with rosacea may progress to bumps and eventually swelling and even thickening of the skin. Treatment is simple
and safe, so if you think your red face might be more than just a case of embarrassment, contact your dermatologist. A dermatology professional can tailor your therapy based on individual symptoms and keep you looking your very best!
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