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Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that affects the central face, causing redness, irritation, pimples and flushing. It is a common skin problem in adults, occurring especially in people with fair sensitive skin types and those who flush or blush easily.

There are different aspects of rosacea that vary in intensity from person to person. Some people's rosacea is manifested mostly by background red, dry, irritated skin on the cheeks and nose. Others get prominent numbers of pimples. Some people get only the tiny enlarged blood vessels on the surface of the skin called telangiectases. Enlarged oil glands, especially on the nose, are another component of rosacea, particularly in men. One can have any different combination of these various problems with rosacea.

The cause of rosacea is not known. It appears to be a skin type to which certain people are predisposed. Factors that trigger flushing or blushing of the skin can aggravate rosacea. These include emotional stress, hot liquids, spicy foods, alcohol, smoking, wind, sun and extreme hot or cold outdoor temperatures. Aggravating factors differ for each person and efforts to avoid or minimize your particular triggers can help control the disease. Also, one should minimize washing, use mild soap-free liquid cleansers (Cetaphil, Neutrogena, Basis) and use facial moisturizers with sunscreens labeled non-comedogenic or safe for acne-prone skin (Cetaphil, Neutrogena, Oil of Olay). Make-up should be oil-free. Yellow or green-based foundations can help diminish the rosy red hue of rosacea.

The pimple component of rosacea can be treated with antibiotic creams or pills. Usually the pills are discontinued after 4 to 6 weeks, once remission has been achieved. Background redness, dryness and irritation can be controlled with regular use of facial moisturizers and sunscreens. Use of high potency cortisone creams on the face must be avoided as these will worsen rosacea. The enlarged blood vessels of the cheeks or nose can be treated with laser surgery. Different combinations of these therapies are prescribed to target the specific aspects of each individual's rosacea.

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can be suppressed but not cured. Some form of long-term maintenance therapy will be necessary to keep this condition in remission, but with attention to proper skin care, avoidance of aggravation factors and regular use of medications, you should be able to effectively manage this bothersome condition and not let it interfere with your daily life.

The National Rosacea Society's website is at

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