Rosacea is a common disorder that mainly affects skin on the face. It causes redness on the nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead. Over time, the redness can become more intense, taking on a ruddy appearance. Blood vessels may become visible.
In some cases, rosacea appears on the chest, back, or neck. It can affect the eyes, causing them to feel irritated and to appear bloodshot or watery. People with rosacea can also develop red solid bumps and pus-filled pimples. The disorder can cause the nose to take on a bulbous, swollen appearance called rhinophyma.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our May 2010 issue, we turned to WebMD's Skin Care Expert, Karyn Grossman, MD, to get advice on dealing with those pesky little bumps that so many of us have on our upper arms.
Q. I have lots of little bumps on my upper arms -- I don't like going sleeveless. What are they? Can I get rid of them?
A. Those little bumps are caused by keratosis pilaris, a common skin condition...
The cause of rosacea is not known; however, different theories exist. One theory is that rosacea may be a component of a more generalized disorder of the blood vessels. Other theories suggest that the condition is caused by microscopic skin mites, fungus, psychological factors, or a malfunction of the connective tissue under the skin. Although no one knows for sure what causes rosacea, some circumstances and conditions can trigger it.
Risk Factors for Rosacea
Rosacea affects an estimated 14 million Americans -- most of them don't know they have it.
People who have fair skin and who tend to blush easily may be at a higher risk for the disorder. Rosacea appears more often among women, but men tend to have the more severe symptoms. A possible reason for this could be that men generally delay medical treatment until rosacea becomes advanced.
Is There a Cure for Rosacea?
While there is no cure for rosacea, medical therapy is available to control or reverse the signs and symptoms. If you suspect that you have rosacea, consult your doctor.
Signs and Symptoms of Rosacea
Rosacea's appearance can vary greatly from one individual to another. Most of the time, not all of the potential signs and symptoms appear. Rosacea always includes at least one of the primary signs listed below. Various secondary signs and symptoms may also develop.
Primary signs of rosacea include:
Flushing. Many people who have rosacea have a history of frequent blushing or flushing. The facial redness, which may come and go, often is the earliest sign of the disorder.
Persistent redness. Persistent facial redness may resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.
Bumps and pimples. Small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples often develop in rosacea. Sometimes the bumps may resemble acne, but blackheads are absent. Burning or stinging may also be present.
Visible blood vessels. Small blood vessels become visible on the skin of many people who have rosacea.