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Faculty of Medical, Clinical and Veterinary Sciences

Skin Problems

Human Skin | Dry Skin | Psoriasis | Eczema | Greasy Skin | Dandruff | Acne | Rosacea | Seborrheic Dermatitis | Skin Cancer | Non-melanoma Skin Cancer | Melanoma | Hereditary Skin Cancer | Sensible sun exposure

Rosacea is a condition where the skin of the face becomes swollen and inflamed, leaving the skin looking red and flushed. Usually the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead are the most prone.

It usually appears in fair skinned people between the ages of 30 to 55, and affects those who have sensitive skin and blush easily. It seems to run in families and is more likely to affect women than men.

The early stages of rosacea appear simply to be intense blushing attacks, but the skin may become permanently reddened if these attacks continue.

Spots and tiny blood vessels appear just under the surface of the skin, causing swelling and making the skin feel extremely over-sensitive.

In more aggressive or severe forms of rosacea, the nose can become particularly affected, becoming swollen and bulbous. This is known medically as rhinophyma and is usually associated with alcoholics, although it's not necessarily confined just to this group1.

Solving the Problem

Unfortunately there is no cure for rosacia, but it can usually be effectively controlled if you are aware of several external influences that may aggravate the skin.

  • Temperature extremes - Heat is a major cause of flare ups, so avoid hot baths and showers, dress in cool, lightweight clothing (avoid woollens completely).

  • Hot drinks - Tea and coffee particularly, but any hot drink bring on flushing.

  • Strong sunlight - Keep the face shaded as much as possible, use a strong sunscreen (at least SPF15) even on shady days. In other words, stick to sensible sun exposure practices.

  • Spicy foods - Avoid Chillies, curries, pickles, mustard and horseradish.

  • Alcohol - Even a few sips can affect some people.

  • Certain skin care products - Avoid using wrinkle creams, cleansers containing alcohol, exfoliating/abrasive cleansers.

For help and advice contact the National Rosacea Society, a US-based site.

1It was rhinophyma that gave WC Fields the bulbous nose that became his trademark.

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