Rosacea is a non-contagious skin condition that causes a red, flushed appearance on the face and sometimes the neck, chest and even the scalp. Redness is caused by broken capillaries in the skin and by inflammation that can also cause small bumps or papules to form. Other possible symptoms include eye irritation and dry eyes, dry skin, and a stinging or burning sensation in the affected areas. Severe forms of rosacea can affect the eyes and cause permanent cosmetic changes in the appearance of the nose (a condition called rhinophyma), ears, chin, forehead or cheeks.
So far, researchers have been unable to determine the precise causes of rosacea. However, some clinical studies have found evidence the condition may be related to shifts in healthy gut bacteria that cause some nerve cells to become over-sensitized to touch and other stimulation. Other research points to a blood vessel disorder that makes vessels become swollen and inflamed. The disease is most common in people with fair skin and those who have a family history of rosacea. Flareups frequently occur in response to trigger events like stress, caffeine or alcohol, spicy foods or significant temperature changes.
Rosacea has several subtypes, and the first step in deciding how to treat the condition is to determine which subtype is present. Some cases that are very mild may respond well to lifestyle changes, like avoiding certain foods known to cause flareups and learning to manage stress. Other cases may require topical or oral medications to make flareups less noticeable. When the area around the eyes becomes affected, antibiotics may be prescribed to avoid infection. In addition to seeing Dr. Dele-Michael for an evaluation, patients with rosacea should also see an ophthalmologist to ensure the condition doesn't affect their eyes and their vision.
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