Diseases & Conditions


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Acne Rosacea


What is acne rosacea? Acne rosacea is a skin problem that affects the nose and face. It causes redness and lumps. Blood vessels become more visible. Sometimes the nose gets larger and looks misshapen. How does it occur? The cause of acne rosacea is not well understood. It may be caused by a blood vessel problem. Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that it results from alcoholism. Rosacea is not related to the pimples and cysts of acne. But rosacea may occur in persons who have acne. Acne and rosacea often are treated with the same medications. What are the symptoms? Rosacea most often appears during middle age. The most common symptoms are a red nose and the appearance of blood vessel patterns on the surface of the nose. In women redness and blood vessels may appear only on the cheeks and chin. Over time the nose may develop small lumps and appear swollen. The nose can become quite enlarged, and its surface may become thickened with scar tissue. Sometimes rosacea also affects the eyelids, which become red and swollen. Rarely, the surface of the eyes may be affected. How is it diagnosed? Your health care provider will probably be able to diagnose rosacea just by looking at your skin. In unusual cases a small skin biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. How is it treated? Rosacea is treated with antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics are taken by mouth. Others are put on the skin. If rosacea is affecting your eyes, your health care provider may prescribe antibiotic medication for your eyes. You may be referred to an eye doctor. For more severe cases of rosacea, Accutane, a drug for severe acne, may be prescribed. If the usual medications do not help the problem, and especially if your nose is significantly enlarged or deformed, you may be referred to a dermatologist. Dermatologists are skin specialists and can suggest other possible treatments, including various types of surgery. A few medical centers are beginning to experiment with laser surgery for rosacea. How can I take care of myself? Exposure to sunlight can worsen the effects of rosacea. Use sunscreen when you are out in the sun. Both men and women with rosacea often use make-up to cover the skin changes. How do I prevent acne rosacea? Because the cause of rosacea is not well understood, prevention of this problem is also not well understood. Rosacea may be inherited and therefore it may not be easy to prevent. However, people who have just started having rosacea, or who have a family history of rosacea, should avoid any foods, drinks, or other irritants (such as sunburn) that cause facial flushing. Frequent facial flushing may cause rosacea to appear for the first time or to worsen.