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Has Your Rosy Complexion Turned into a Red Face? It is Probably Rosacea.

By Kevin C. Smith MD FACP FRCPC

Years ago, those who had a red nose were commonly thought to be drinkers (and this sometimes affected their business or social life). Now we know that this idea was very unfair, and that most people who have a red nose (and sometimes red cheeks and a red chin) are simply afflicted with rosacea. (More information can be found at Rosacea Guide.ca)

Rosacea, sometimes called acne rosacea, is a chronic skin condition characterized by redness, visible blood vessels on the nose, cheeks and/or chin, sometimes pimples, and, in advanced stages, thickened skin on the nose. Rosacea usually occurs on the face, although the neck and upper chest are also sometimes involved. Over a million Canadians (mostly between the ages of 30 and 60) have rosacea. People with fair eyes, fair hair and fair skin are most commonly affected by rosacea. Rosacea is more common in people who blush easily, or who feel flushed or turn red after consuming alcohol or hot, spicy foods. Women are more often affected by rosacea, but the most severe cases of rosacea are usually seen in men.

While there is no cure for rosacea, safe, simple long-term treatment will keep the skin in good condition and prevent skin damage. Most people with rosacea respond well to the daily application of creams or gels, which contain metronidazole (a medication which is both an antibiotic and also has anti-inflammatory effects). A very popular treatment is Rosasol? cream which has both metronidazole and an SPF-15 sunscreen in it. Because treatment needs to be continued life-long, I like to give my patients a prescription with 99 refills. Occasionally patients prefer or respond better to pills like tetracycline (which is both an antibiotic and also has anti-inflammatory effects). In rare cases, several months of treatment with Accutane? helps to bring severe inflammatory rosacea under control, and greatly improves a person's appearance and self-image. Click on rosacea treatment to learn more.

Rosacea often causes skin damage, and many patients have some degree of permanent redness or 'broken blood vessels' on the face. The unsightly blood vessels can usually be corrected in one or two treatments using the combination of laser and intense pulsed light ('IPL') treatments. Redness and sun damage can be greatly improved with 3-6 IPL treatments, several weeks to one month apart. A welcome bonus of IPL treatments is that many people who blush easily are happy to report that after several treatments not only has the redness improved but they are blushing less often.

Rosacea is often an inherited characteristic. If you see older family members with excessive redness of the face, and perhaps pimples or thickening of the skin of the nose you might want to suggest that they seek treatment. If you are starting to develop those characteristics yourself, you might want nip the problem in the bud and seek treatment at an early stage.

Learn more about dealing with rosacea at Rosacea Guide.ca.

About the author:
Dr. Kevin Smith is a dermatologist in Niagara Falls, Ontario with a particular interest in protecting the skin and in correcting skin problems resulting from aging, rosacea and sun damage. He is an expert in the use of Botox?, fillers, lasers and intense pulsed light to maintain and enhance the appearance of the skin, and have lectured on those subjects across North America, and in Europe, Asia and Mexico. Read more at www.smithlaser.com

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