What is acne rosacea?

Author: Timothy Anscombe

Date: Oct 2010

Rosacea is an inflammatory condition, primarily affecting skin on the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead and typically first appearing on men and women between the ages of 30 & 60. It is often referred to as "adult acne" or acne rosacea.

However, rosacea is quite different from acne, (although it can sometimes co-exist with comedonal acne). The red spots and pustules are dome-shaped rather than pointed, and there are no blackheads, white heads, deep cysts or lumps.

Rosacea is relatively under-diagnosed as early symptoms very often masquerade as sunburn, rash or allergy. In fact many rosacea sufferers are quite unaware that that they have a condition that can be treated.

If left untreated, the condition may progress to inflammatory rosacea with its papules and pustules.

A characteristic symptom of rosacea is thin red lines on the face which are called Telangiectasia and in severe cases the nose may become red and swollen following the build up of excess tissue, a condition called Rhinophyma.

What are the causes of rosacea?

There is no clear answer to this question although any of the following factors could have an influence:

  • Genetic pre-disposition
  • Systemic conditions particularly of the stomach & gut
  • Demodex folliculorum mite
  • Use of steroid containing creams/ointments
  • Sunlight provoking an underlying condition

But, although suspected of playing a part, none of these factors have been fully confirmed and it has been observed that rosacea can develop as a replacement condition to pre-existing acne vulgaris.

How is rosacea treated?

The papules and pustules of rosacea respond well to the topical application of specially formulated, metronidazole containing, water based gels. These gels are cooling, easy to apply, and virtually invisible in use as they do not leave skin greasy.

Alternatively, rosacea can be treated by oral administration of tetracycline, oxytetracycline, or erythromycin 500mg twice a day for 6 -12 weeks repeated intermittently thereafter.

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Next review: 13 December 2021