Rosacea is a skin disorder affecting around one in 10 people. It typically causes reddening of the face, especially around the eyes and nose. Rosacea mainly affects people between 30 and 55, although it can occur at any age. It is more common in women than men, but tends to be more severe in men, leading to a thickening of the nose called rhinophyma.

Symptoms of rosacea

The symptoms of rosacea vary from person to person, but can be generally classified into four types:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: a persistent flushing and redness of the face accompanied by small visible blood vessels called telangiectasia.
  • Papulopustular rosacea: facial redness with small bumps, spots and pustules.
  • Phymatous rosacea: this leads to the thickening of the skin, especially around the nose.
  • Ocular rosacea or eye rosacea: the skin condition spreads to the eyes causing stinging or tearful eyes with swollen eyelids.

The symptoms of rosacea are rather unpredictable and they can come and go, with patients alternating between good days and flare-ups.

What causes rosacea?

The cause of rosacea is unknown, although many people affected find that there are environmental factors that will trigger a flare-up. These vary from person to person but commonly cited factors include sunlight, stress, spicy food, cold weather, alcohol, caffeine and hot baths. Red wine is a particular trigger in some people.

There are several theories about the actual cause of rosacea, including:

  • Pre-existing abnormalities in the blood vessels.
  • Infection with the skin mite Demodex folliculorum.
  • Skin infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which is associated with stomach ulcers when present in the upper digestive system.
  • Genetic causes as rosacea can run in families.

Living with rosacea

For many people, the main problems caused by having to live with rosacea are emotional. The constant redness and spots inevitably draw attention to the condition, leading to issues with confidence and self-esteem.

Covering the symptoms of rosacea with make-up would appear to be an obvious solution, but this can often make the symptoms worse and in severe cases, the skin may simply not tolerate these chemicals. Specially formulated ‘camouflage’ make-up is available, which is designed specifically to help those badly affected. Careful diet, high factor sunblock and other lifestyle changes can also make a big difference.