Five Most Common Rosacea Symptoms

Everyone gets a little flushed now and then — after a good workout or when you’re really excited or embarrassed, for example. But if that burn in your cheeks seems to happen very frequently or stays around longer than it used to, it may be more than just a blush. It may be rosacea.

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin disorder that starts as simple flushing but can progress to include serious skin eruptions and even eye complications. Some 16 million Americans have it, according to the National Rosacea Society, and most have no idea what it is or how to treat it. Here are a few subtle and not-so- subtle signs to watch for:

Flushing. You may notice that your skin gets flushed easily or that you blush often. You may see some of the characteristic redness of rosacea all the time or a red-faced appearance may seem to come and go. The redness may get worse when you get overheated, eat spicy food, drink a mug of hot coffee or tea, or go out in cold or windy weather. Flushing can also result after you apply a certain makeup or skin care product. The redness could be slight — you may even think that you have normal blushing that just seems to take longer to fade — but even if that’s the case, your blushing could be rosacea.

Skin sensitivity. Another rosacea symptom is discomfort of the skin on the face. "The skin can be quite sensitive and may sting or burn," says Clare A. Pipkin, MD, a dermatologist and assistant professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center. Warning signs could be a tight sensation on the face or even the sensation of heat on your skin. Skin care products, especially those containing alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, and eucalyptus, can irritate sensitive skin. Ultimately skin may feel painful.

Pustules and papules. Bumps on the face that may be pus-filled are often a sign of rosacea. You might just write them off as a breakout or a case of adult acne, but you won’t see any of acne’s typical clogged pores, known as comedones or blackheads, says Pipkin.

Tiny, broken blood vessels. "With repeated flushing, blood vessels can become dilated, most prominently on the cheeks and nose," Pipkin explains. These blood vessels could be thin enough that they’re barely visible, or simply dismissed as a normal part of aging.

Changes in skin’s appearance. Rosacea symptoms can become more obvious if the condition advances unchecked. Common signs of rosacea that is progressing include a persistent, dark red color on parts of the face, swelling, and thickened skin.

When Rosacea Affects the Eyes and Nose

Rosacea that involves the nose is called rhinophyma. If left untreated, advanced cases of rosacea can cause the nose to swell and enlarge, become bulbous in shape, lumpy in texture, and very red in color.

Ocular rosacea causes dry, irritated, bloodshot, and red-rimmed eyes. The eyelids may also swell, styes (inflamed bumps on the eyelids) may appear, and vision may eventually be affected, often becoming blurry.

The earlier you notice the signs of rosacea and take action, the better. Once the condition becomes more advanced, it can be harder to bring the symptoms under control. Advanced ocular rosacea can ultimately result in vision loss.

Pay attention to your skin — inspect it closely and see a dermatologist if you suspect that you have symptoms of rosacea.

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