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Another article on rosacea

Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:27 pm


This article appeared in the Daily Mail You magazine several years ago and I cut it out and filed it at the time as I thought it was good and there were comments from Tony Chu. Despite it's age it is still relevant so I have typed it up and posted it below. A reader had written in with this question.

Question. I suffer from rosacea and can't seem to find anything that really controls the facial redness. Please can you give me any advice on this embarrassing problem?

Answer. Skin problems can be so difficult to live with - not only do they feel uncomfortable but they are visible as well. Around 2% of the population suffer from rosacea and although it is more common in women it tends to be more severe in men. It is often confused with acne. Tony Chu, consultant dermatologist at London's Hammersmith Hospital, says you should get the condition treated. If your GP is at a loss as to what to do, ask for a referral to a dermatologist with an interest with the condition.

Rosacea in itself is not serious but left untreated can cause permanent skin damage warns Dr Chu. The facial redness is due to an abnormality of the blood vessels, which tend to be overactive and cause flushing attacks. Some sufferers develop tiny spots over the reddened area. If the condition is not treated, it's possible to develop rhinophyma, when the nose becomes red and bulbous as a result of enlargement of the oil glands in the skin. When this happens rosacea sufferers are often mistaken for alcoholics which causes more distress says Dr Chu.

Treatment may be a case of trial and error. In the first instance your GP should prescribe antibiotics which have an anti-inflammatory action. Tetracycline is often used if spots are present. You can also get gels containing metronidazole which Dr Chu says is effective in the early stages. The flushing can be helped with a drug such as clonidine which calms down the blood vessels. It can lower the blood pressure slightly but it is a very safe drug to use he reassures.

Apart from drug therapy you can minimise the problem says Marie Cunningham, a nurse who works for the Acne Support Group and who is a rosacea sufferer. The two most important elements of skincare are moisturising and sun protection Even on a cloudy day you should wear a sunscreen because sunlight can make the problem worse she says. Use at least a factor 15 sunscreen and find a moisturiser that doesn't irritate your skin - unscented, hypoallergenic products tend to be best.

You should also try to identify what triggers flushing attacks suggests Marie. Alcohol is a common trigger, as are hot drinks and food, spicy meals, stress and temperature changes. I cope by covering my skin with light make-up says Marie. A tinted moisturiser is best because it easily soaks into the skin and I don't have to rub my face to apply it. If your face feels sore and hot she recommends aloe vera gel which is soothing and will help to cool the skin.

Eventually the problem will go away says Dr Chu. But it can last for 6 months to 20 years - so do see somebody about treatment.

Anyway I hope this is of interest.



Re: Another article on rosacea

Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:55 pm

Thanks Peter,

Good sensible stuff. I reckon that sometimes we lose sight of the fact that many people who suffer from rosacea do get relief from the common treatments. So overall this sort of advice is worthwhile. I like that they included a reference to a moisturizer and sunscreen. Even during cloudly days one is worthwhile.

Not sure about the reference to 20 years - that sounds like a real sentence (doh)

Re: Another article on rosacea

Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:21 am

Hello David

Thanks. Even though it’s several years old now I thought it was a good reassuring article for those newly diagnosed. Of course we know everybody can be different and I personally don’t wear a sunscreen on my face, primarily because they all irritate my skin but also because the sun is no longer a trigger and it appears to help my skin providing I build up my tolerance to it. Obviously here in the UK the sun isn’t as strong as it is in your part of the world.

Yes I agree with you that we do tend to forget that there are many cases of rosacea which are very well controlled by the first line treatments and usually those people do not belong to support groups, so we can get a distorted picture. Having said that as we know there are people with rosacea especially the severe vascular type who have terrible trouble finding a suitable treatment regime and that where a support group like this one plays its part trying to offer help.

Well I have had rosacea for over 20 years now and so has my sister but fortunately we both have it under control. Mine was left undiagnosed and untreated for over 10 years because of the ignorance of a GP and not helped later by the arrogance of a certain dermatologist.

Whether rosacea does burn itself out or not has always been a hot potato but Tony Chu has always told me it is a self-limiting condition although there is no way of predicting how long you will have it. The key things are that it is unlikely to improve if just left alone and as he says you should seek treatment ASAP. If your GP appears uncertain or clueless (often the case) then ask for a referral to a dermatologist with a proven track record of treating this condition. Again as he mentioned treatment can in some cases be a matter of trial and error until you find something that helps so try not to get despondent if it takes a while.


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