What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a condition that mainly affects patients of Skin Types 1 and 2, though many cases exist in darker skinned patients. In total, some 45 million people are thought to suffer from rosacea worlwide (including approximately 5 million in the UK and 16 million in the US). Famous sufferers include Bill Clinton, Lady Diana, Alex Ferguson and Mariah Carey. Typically rosacea begins when the patient is in his or her 30’s.

Photo courtedy of Dr Scardigli

Photo courtesy of Dr Scardigli

Rosacea is a chronic (long term) disease of which most patients are unaware; in its early stages, when it looks like blushing, it can be confused with sun-induced diffuse redness, but it progresses into a more persistent bright redness on the central face. Main areas affected are the cheeks, nose, or forehead, but it can also less commonly affect the neck, chest, ears, and scalp. In some cases, additional symptoms, telangiectasias, red papules (small bumps) and pustules can result. The presence of pustules is often referred to as active rosacea, but is confused by some patients with acne. Use of topical steroids for other conditions can aggravate the condition.

There is a myth that it is caused by persistent or heavy drinking, and this coupled with a relatively late onset of the disease, and its prominent location in the centre of the face, has a negative effect on the quality of life of the sufferer. Left untreated, it can progress to affect the eyes or can make the nose bulbous.

Causes and Triggers

There may be several causes, from the (genetic) presence of certain enzymes in the skin, to a bacterial infection of the gut. The triggers (factors that cause flushing and blushing) are generally less disputed than the causes:

  • Certain medications and topical irritants can quickly trigger rosacea.
  • Some acne and wrinkle treatments that have been reported to cause rosacea include microdermabrasion and chemical peels, as well as high dosages of isotretinoin, benzoyl peroxide, and tretinoin.

The US National Rosacea Society is a valuable source of information to patients, and conducted its own survery of 1,066 rosacea patients showed which factors affect the most people:

  • Sun exposure 81%
  •  Emotional stress 79%
  •  Hot weather 75%
  •  Wind 57%
  •  Heavy exercise 56%
  •  Alcohol consumption 52%
  •  Hot baths 51%
  •  Cold weather 46%
  •  Spicy foods 45%
  •  Humidity 44%
  •  Indoor heat 41%
  •  Certain skin-care products 41%
  •  Heated beverages 36%
  •  Certain cosmetics 27%
  •  Medications (specifically stimulants) 15%
  •  Medical conditions 15%
  •  Certain fruits 13%
  •  Marinated meats 10%
  •  Certain vegetables 9%
  •  Dairy products 8%

Treatment Options

The most common methods of dealing with rosacea are:

●  Camouflage: A high number of people with a mild form of the condition may never be diagnosed, and may decide (or be advised by their doctor) that the condition can be covered with cosmetics.

●  Trigger avoidance: Patients are often encouraged to keep a diary to determine their particular trigger, and may be offered sun-protection as sun is a widespread trigger.

●  Medication: A range of antibiotics are recommended to either deal directly with the pustules, or to attempt to minimize the gut bacteria that may be the original cause. Most often, antiobiotics are used to treat the symptoms rather than the disease.

●  Light-based treatment: Light based treatments are aimed at treating the blood vessels (diffuse redness and any secondary telangiectasias). While this does not prevent reoccurrence, it does “restart the clock” in term of severity of the symptoms.

Ellipse I2PL treatment of Rosacea

Ellipse I2PL treats rosacea by targeting the small blood vessels that cause the appearance of blushing. Two applicators (the PR+ or the VL+) can be used; the choice depends  on the client’s skin type and level of sun tan. In more  developed cases, a slightly longer pulse of light is used, and any remaining individual vessels can be treated at a later session. Even active (pustular) rosacea can be treated, albeit with a reduced energy.

Unlike some lasers, Ellipse I2PL treatment of rosacea is not too painful;  the light feels like the flick from a rubber band, followed by a slightly warm sensation similar to that experienced following a day in the sun. Typically 3 to 4 treatment sessions are required. Light based treatment does not remove the conditions that cause rosacea do develop, so the condition can re-occur.  However quite a long period of remission can be expected, and the treatment tends to “reset the clock” in terms of reducing the severity of the symptoms after remission has ended.

About ellipseblogger

Ellipseblogger is the collective name for the various service staff of Ellipse A/S; manufacturers of laser and Intense Pulsed Light (I2PL) solutions for aesthetic dermatology since 1997. Please note that this blog reflects our worldwide applications of Ellipse systems of which some may not be currently cleared for sale in the US.

Posted on February 21, 2013, in Aesthetic, Medical, Treatments and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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