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Don’t mistake rosacea for acne

How likely are you to get rosacea?
How likely are you to get rosacea?

According to the National Rosacea Society, people with the following characteristics are most prone to rosacea:

  • Tendency to flush easily
  • Peaches-and-cream complexion
  • English, Irish or Eastern European ancestry
  • Family members who have been diagnosed with the condition

Signs and symptoms

  • Red areas on the face
  • Inflammation of the cheeks, nose, forehead or chin
  • Red, bulbous nose

Skin conditions that affect appearance, especially those of the face, are disheartening for many people who suffer from them. Rosacea (pronounced rose-AY-shuh), a skin condition that affects more women than men, is one such problem.

Often mistaken for acne, rosacea is a disease that begins as redness in the cheeks. It eventually advances to cause small, red, solid bumps (papules) or pus-filled pimples (pustules), usually on the nose, cheeks, forehead or chin. When left untreated, enlarged blood vessels begin to show through the skin as small, red lines, and some people can develop knobby bumps on their nose.

Rosacea usually develops between the ages 30 and 60, and is most common in fair-skinned people who blush easily. Although alcohol and some foods can aggravate rosacea, the cause of the condition is unknown.

The good news is that there are ways to reduce symptoms. If you suspect that you have rosacea, consult a dermatologist. Rosacea can be treated effectively with antibiotics, either taken orally or applied directly to problem areas. The dose of the antibiotic is gradually decreased until it can be discontinued without having symptoms recur. Laser treatment can eliminate enlarged blood vessels to improve appearance.

Watch for these triggers

If you have rosacea, you can help control it by reducing your exposure to things that trigger flushing, such as alcohol, spicy foods, hot drinks, stress and extreme heat or cold. Although there’s no definite link between certain cosmetics and rosacea, choose products that are specially formulated to protect pimple-prone skin. Look for the word “noncomedogenic” on the label, which means the product won’t clog your pores. Choose mild cleansers and avoid cosmetics that contain alcohol.

If you have rosacea, don’t use over-the-counter acne remedies to treat it. These aren’t appropriate for treating the condition and may even aggravate it.

Although the symptoms of rosacea can be distressing, with the help of a few dietary changes, treatment with an antibiotic and, in severe cases, laser surgery, most people who have the condition are able to put their best faces forward.

Watch for these triggers