Rosacea, sometimes also called adult acne (as it usually appears after the age of 30), is a chronic skin disease. It is manifested by an increased and permanent facial redness accompanied by a stinging sensation and widened capillaries. At time, it is also accompanied by small, red, acne-like pimples. At the early stages of the disease, the flushing is intermittent, but later on becomes permanent.
Approximately 5% of the population suffers from rosacea. While it affects both genders, its frequency among women is three times higher than among men, and it appears mainly at the ages of 30–50. The disease is mostly common among fair-skinned people.
The Disease’s Symptoms
The disease is predominantly characterized by an increased facial redness, especially on the cheeks, forehead and chin, caused by the widening of capillaries. In addition, nodules and small red pimples that resemble acne, called couperose, appear. In severe cases, the tissue on the face and nose thickens (a condition called rhinophyma). Unlike acne, rosacea is not characterized by the appearance of comedones, and does not involve the back and chest. In some of the cases, apart from the skin, the disease also spreads to the eyes, and is also manifested by watery, irritated eyes.
What are the Causes for Rosacea?
The exact cause is unknown; however, this disease most likely involves a combination of hereditary and environmental factors:
- Genetic predisposition
- The involvement of a parasite named “Demodex”, which penetrates the depths of the dermis and instigates inflammation.
- Additional risk factors for rosacea include disorders of the endocrine system, such as diabetes, ovarian failure and hormonal changes that occur with menopause, as well as immune system disorders.
- Sun exposure—considered a central cause for the appearance of rosacea, based on the fact that the heat causes the dilation of the blood vessels. Therefore, in warm countries like Israel, the incidence of the disease is relatively high.
- Additional environmental factors that cause blood vessel dilation significantly influence the severity of the disease, and among them are mental stress, excessive consumption of alcohol, spicy foods, extreme temperature changes, wind, moisture, heat, sun exposure, intense physical effort and more.
How is Rosacea Diagnosed?
In the majority of cases, rosacea can be diagnosed by the external examination of the skin. It is sometimes necessary to test the skin microflora and to asses the condition of the blood vessels, and in some cases, blood tests are also required in order to distinguish between rosacea and other similar skin disorders.
It should be noted that rosacea is oftentimes erroneously diagnosed as seborrhea, acne, sunburn or increased flushing, and the treatment administered does not solve the problem. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice of a dermatologist in order to correctly diagnose the disease.