Rosacea is a skin condition that mainly affects the central part of the face, particularly the cheeks, forehead and nose. The main feature is persistent inflammation or redness, which is present for at least three months.
The first signs are intermittent episodes of flushing of your skin, which may feel itchy or burn. With time, red lumps, small white and yellow pimples and pustules and small dilated blood vessels tend to develop. In some cases the rash becomes permanent, leaving the skin red.
Most people have never heard of rosacea, but its very common and may affect up to one in ten people. Although it can appear for the first time at any age, it typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 55, with women more often affected than men. It can run in families. Rosacea mostly affects people with fair skin.
The cause is still a mystery. A number of factors have been identified which may play a part. These include certain microorganisms found on the skin, changes in the blood vessels in the skin, the climate around us, and exposure to certain chemicals or foods. Hot flushes during the menopause could also trigger Rosacea.
Without knowing the cause it’s impossible to identify those people at risk or prevent the first attack. But see your GP if you think you have Rosacea. Once a diagnosis has been made, those affected can learn to avoid triggers. These include hot food and drink, alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine, vigorous exercise, temperature changes, exposure to the sun or wind and stress. UV light can make Rosacea worse so wearing sun cream is really important.
Flare-ups can usually be treated with topical antibiotics applied directly onto the skin as a lotion. More intensive drug treatments are available for severe cases, while laser therapy targeted onto the dilated blood vessels in Rosacea may help to reduce redness or improve the quality of the skin. There are various herbal and complementary treatments available but no evidence to support that they work.
Rosacea tends to wax and wane over time. There is no cure but eventually, by following advice to avoid triggers and using treatment if necessary, most people are able to gain some control over it.
Q I get very anxious about things quickly, can my GP help?
Dr Trisha says: I’m sure your GP could give you some helpful advice but I expect the first thing they’d do would be to encourage you to initially try to tackle this yourself by getting regular exercise, using relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation and avoiding stimulants.
Many self-help techniques for anxiety are based around Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT, which helps you understand the way you are feeling. It then gives you coping strategies to deal with your anxiety by changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviour.
There are numerous online courses such as Living Life to the Full (www.llttf.com) and books which can guide you through CBT. You GP may also refer you to a cognitive behavioural therapist for regular sessions. Medication is rarely used for anxiety these days, unless it is very persistent or disabling.
- Dr Trisha writes a column every fortnight in Yours magazine. Ask Dr Trisha about your health problems by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.