What is rosacea?

Rosacea is one of the only skin conditions that doesn’t have a pathological definition – it doesn’t have a defined cause or biological marker that can be identifiably linked to it. Instead, rosacea is essentially a spectrum of symptoms ranging from flushed red cheeks to pustular nodes and affects individuals with fair and light skin.

What does it look like?

In its milder form, rosacea looks like flushed red skin and visible capillaries (vascularization) at the surface of the skin – kind of like the redness you get from exercise, but it just never goes away. In its more aggressive states, it can take the form of bumps and pustules in addition to redness. For this reason, it’s sometimes mistaken as acne.

How can it be treated?

Mild rosacea may be treated with topical creams and/or a tailored skin regimen, but laser therapy is always an option for more aggressive cases.

  • Tailored skin regimen for rosacea: a tailored skin program will eliminate harsh soaps used on the skin in addition to harsh detergents used on sheets, towels, and pillowcases that the skin touches regularly. Your dermatologist will recommend soap-free cleaners for daily washing, in addition to sunscreen that will reduce the sun’s negative effects on rosacea.How fast can I expect results? Your skin will need to adjust to its new program, so results will vary from 4-8 weeks.How long do results last? If changes are sufficient, they could solve the problem entirely unless stressors aggravate the condition.
  • Prescription topical therapy for rosacea: when a tailored skin regimen doesn’t fix the problem, topical creams and treatments are usually the first line of defense for rosacea. Topical antibiotics are used to prevent the continued spread of bacterial infection, while steroids can be used to suppress inflammation and reduce the size of capillaries, which are the blood vessels that dilate.How fast can I expect results? Typically with 2-4 weeks.How long do results last? For the duration of the treatment.
  • Prescription oral therapy for rosacea: oral antibiotics may be used in conjunction with topical antibiotics, but usually require long-term treatment of up to 6 months, which is often difficult on the patient’s digestive system. For some female patients, oral contraceptives have had a positive impact on reducing rosacea symptoms.How fast can I expect results? 2-6 months.How long do results last? The duration of the antibiotic cycle, which will often be cycled on and off.
  • IPL treatment for rosacea: IPL treatment for rosacea has a dual purpose – to improve the appearance at the surface of the skin instantly, and to improve the collagen production at the dermis (the layer under the surface) to prevent the issue from appearing in the future.IPL treatment entails the application of intense pulsed light to the treatment area, which enters the skin with a predilection for destroying brown and red pigmentation – this causes immediate improvement at the surface.
    The laser also triggers tissue destruction in these pigmented cells: as the cells absorb the light energy, it’s converted to heat, causing cellular damage that prompts the body to send regenerative cells to the dermis. Cell regeneration in the dermis below the surface of the skin essentially helps restructure the vascular matrix under the skin’s surface, keeping it within the dermis.How fast can I expect results? In minor cases, you may see results in just 1 treatment, but it can take up to 4-6 treatments to see results.How long do results last? Results from IPL, once rosacea has been cleared, last up to 6-12 months, and most patients will generally choose to have quarterly “maintenance” treatments for good measure.

Rosacea is a relatively common nuisance that, with your dermatologist’s help, can be alleviated. In addition, you can do your part to alleviate the aggravation of the symptoms by staying away from strong elements in the form of UV light and strong winds, alcohol and caffeine, stress and emotional changes, spicy foods, and anything that increases the body temperature (such as exercise and fevers). A combination of your doctor’s help and your own preemptive measures can help you achieve the clear skin you’ve always wanted.