The full medical name of Rosacea is Acne Rosacea. Rosacea affects two components of the skin, hair follicles and blood vessels. Especially hair follicles that have large oil glands attached are afffected. These hair follicles are found on the face, chest and back. No one knows exactly what causes Rosacea. One theory suggest that a certain organism, called Demodex, is the cause of the hair follicle problems. Another theory suggests that the blood vessel problem is related to sun damage of the tissue around blood vessels. Middle aged people are the most commonly affected age group. Rosacea goes through different phases of development and the treatment of Rosacea in each phase is different.
Phase 1: Intermittent flushing
The intermittent flushing phase tends to be triggered by sun exposure or other factors like warm drinks, warm food, alcohol or spicy food. The treatment of this phase involves avoiding the trigger factors and applying sunblock.
Phase 2: Persistent redness and broken capillaries
The redness and broken capillaries are best treated with a laser or intense pulsed light device.
Phase 3: Pimples
The pimple phase is treated with topical medication (creams, gels and ointments) or systemic medication (tablets or capsules). Topical medications include Metronidazole gel (Rozex gel) and Azeleic acid (Skinoren). Oral medications include Tetracycline derived antibiotics (Minocycline, Lymecycline, Doxycyline) and Vitamin A derived medication called Isotretinoin (Roaccutane, Oratane, Acnetane). Patients have to take these medications for weeks to months to control the Rosacea.
Phase 4: Permanent swelling of the nose and occasionally other areas
Rosacea can cause permanent enlargement of the oil glands. This enlargment of the oil glands leads to swelling. Swelling of the nose is called Rhinophyma. Rhinophyma can be treated with Vitamin A derived medication called Isotretinoin, surgically, with laser or with a process called Dermabrasion.
In addition to the skin symptoms, Rosacea can also cause red itchy eyes.