Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes redness and small bumps on the face. It is chronic and progressive with flares and remissions. Sometimes it is called "adult acne" and sometimes the patient has a red, bulbous nose (rhinophyma). Rhinophyma is more common in men and develops slowly over years. Think W.C.Fields or Bill Clinton.
Patients with rosacea tend to blush easily, especially across the nose and cheeks. Small blood vessels (telangiectasia) can become visible. Unfortunately, it seldom clears up on its own and does get worse over time.
There have been a lot of myths about rosacea and who gets it. In medical school I was taught it was a sign of alcoholism. A new case controlled study from Harvard Medical School, and reported on at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting, found there was no relationship to alcohol use in patients with rosacea. None at all.
The people with rosacea were three times more likely than controls to have a family member with the condition and 8 times more likely to have had a blistering sunburn. There was no difference in patients with hypertension, another myth dispelled.
Most people with rosaea have fair or light skin. There are no specific tests to diagnose rosacea.
Like so many things in life, genetics play a key role in rosacea. Avoiding a severe sunburn seems to be key, but clearly we don't know who is at risk and who is not. Topical antibiotics are used to lessen the redness and we know that antihistamines are of no benefit. Eighty-five percent of people say their rosacea is affected by change of season and they flare up in very hot or very cold weather.
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