Rosacea: Symptoms and Treatment

Characterised by redness in the face and cheeks, Rosacea can appear as dilated blood vessels, pustules, papules and swelling. It is a chronic rash that can be persistent, recurrent or transient. There may be several factors that expedite the onset of rosacea including environmental influences, genetics and inflammatory or vascular responses. Skin damage caused by sun exposure can also be a factor.

Rosacea can be aggravated by skin care products and oils and the skin’s immune response also plays a role. When defending against harmful microbes the immune system remodels skin tissue to assist with healing. However, when concentrations of substances such as elastase and collagenase are too high, skin can harden and thicken, compounding rather than curing the problem. Dermatologists assist by providing a treatment plan that is patient-specific for best outcomes.

Rosacea symptoms and features

Unlike acne, rosacea doesn’t result in blackheads, whiteheads or nodules. The red spots associated with rosacea can lead to scaling and other unsightly skin transformations, with swelling and skin irritation sometimes manifesting.

Features of rosacea include:

  • Visible blushing and flushed appearance of the face
  • Prominent blood vessels and persistent redness
  • Flaky and dry facial skin
  • Red spots and pustules appearing on facial areas and possibly other parts of the body
  • Sensitive skin that is aggravated by facial creams and products, often accompanied by a burning or stinging sensation
  • A reddening of the face in reaction to the sun, hot foodstuffs and humid environments
  • Red, sore or gritty eyelid margins including papules and styes (posterior blepharitis), and sore or tired eyes (conjunctivitis, keratitis, episcleritis) – ocular rosacea

Rosacea can be confused with other facial rashes such as acne, irritant contact dermatitis and perioral dermatitis. In some cases, rosacea can manifest together with other rashes and skin problems, so a consultation with your dermatologist is advised. State of the art clinics and treatment centres such as Pymble Dermatology are the first port of call for people wanting an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Rosacea Treatment Sydney

An experienced dermatologist can diagnose rosacea during a simple physical examination of the affected area. Prescribed medications work best when assisted by general care and lifestyle changes as requested by your doctor. Guidelines may include:

  • Reducing factors that cause the face to heat and flush
  • Using water-based make-up and facial products
  • Protecting your face from the sun without using oil-based sunscreens
  • Minimising intake of hot and spicy food, alcohol and other heating beverages
  • Avoiding hot showers and keeping your environment cool

There are also a range of medical interventions and products available. Pymble Dermatology practitioners educate patients in a caring environment, discuss the full range of treatment options and offer ongoing support during recovery.

Treatment options include:

Oral antibiotics: Useful for reducing inflammation. They reduce the redness, papules, pustules and eye symptoms of rosacea. The antibiotics are usually prescribed for 6 to 12 weeks, with the duration and dose depending on the severity of the rosacea. Further courses are often needed from time to time, as the antibiotics don’t cure the disorder.

Topical treatment: Medical creams and gels for treating the skin come in many varieties and some of them are safe to use long-term. Mild rosacea is known to respond well to topical treatments that act as anti-inflammatory agents.

Anti-flushing Medications: A red facial appearance is often the result of widening blood vessels, known as vascular dilatation. Nutraceuticals are functional food sources which may be beneficial. Certain medications such as clonidine (an alpha2-receptor agonist) and carvedilol (a non-selective beta blockers with some alpha-blocking activity) may reduce the vascular dilatation (widening of blood vessels) that results in flushing. They are generally well tolerated. Side effects may include low blood pressure, gastrointestinal symptoms, dry eyes, blurred vision and low heart rate. 

Laser treatments: Persistent telangiectasia can be successfully improved with vascular laser or intense pulsed light treatment.

Rosacea is a stubborn condition requiring a personalised treatment plan. Although rosacea isn’t too harmful in itself, it can cause sufferers to retreat from social situations and hinder quality of life. Recovery assisted by dermatology is the answer, and the experts at Pymble Dermatology are ready to answer all your questions.