Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Probably the biggest and most legendary myth about rosacea is that it’s caused by alcohol abuse. Traditionally red faces and bulbous noses are associated with heavy drinkers. Alcohol DOES NOT CAUSE rosacea but its side effects produce the side effects that are common with the signs and symptoms of rosacea.  Alcohol consumption causes the blood vessels to dilate resulting in increased blood flow to the facial area and resulting in facial flushing. Anything that affects blood flow in the body or causes the blood vessels to dilate will be symptomatic with rosacea. In this case, alcohol is not a cause of rosacea but a trigger that can aggravate your symptoms or cause your rosacea to flare.  

The traditional myth that rosacea is a disease of the Irish. Historically rosacea has occurred mainly in northern Europeans – the fair skinned blue-eyed blondes. In fact rosacea affects approximately 14 million people in the U.S. alone –blondes, brunettes, redheads, fair-skinned people, and dark-skinned people. In fact we see a growing number of Asians reporting symptoms of rosacea.  All this leads one to surmise that somehow the growing trend toward the more western culture and lifestyle may play a large part in the occurrence of rosacea. 

A misunderstood concept is the relationship between acne and rosacea. This concept that they are the same or that one causes the other was further perpetuated by the now obsolete term acne-rosacea. Acne has a bacterial component affecting the pores of the skin. Rosacea is a vascular condition causing increased blood flow to the facial areas.  This is not to say that you can’t have both at the same time, but they are completely different conditions. 

Another misconception is that rosacea is caused by what you eat – NO not true. Does diet play a role in rosacea – yes. Thermally hot beverages such as a steaming cup of coffee or spicy foods can result in vascular dilation increasing the blood flow to the facial areas, resulting in a symptomatic rosacea flare.

The theory that rosacea is caused by sun burns. The sun rays can burn the skin making more sensitive and damaging the cell structure of the skin. The heat of the sun can result in a flushed or red face. So again this is a common trigger can result in a rosacea flare, but not a cause of rosacea.
Probably the scariest misconception about rosacea is that everyone with rosacea will grow a big misshapen nose – a condition called Rhinophyma. If left untreated, a small percentage of people with rosacea will see a progression of the condition leading to a red, bulbous appearance of the nose.
So now that we have dispelled all the things that rosacea IS NOT, let’s discuss what ROSACEA IS.

 Rosacea is actually aninflammatory vascular condition causing facial redness, inflammation andsometimes a degree of swelling to the facial area.  Rosacea has been typically thought to affect only the face, in fact there are those who experience the symptoms of rosacea on the neck, upper chest and eyes. The more common of these would be the involvement of the eyes. Rosacea in the eyes may cause a sensation that you have something –dirt, sand or grit- in the eye. The eyes may become red, watery or inflamed.

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