Rosacea, the stealth disease
Rosacea is such a common disease, but nobody really seems to know what it really is. For those that have rosacea, we seem to just blend into society with our "ruddy complexions", too much sun, too much alcohol, high blood pressure, mad, hot, rosy cheeks (how cute!) and a host of many other disguises. But underneath, we are literally boiling!! We hurt, embarrass easily, seek medical help that generally does not help. We flush at a drop of a hat. Stress, foods sunlight, cold, heat, soap, almost anything can make us flush! Sooner or later the flush becomes permanent. Social events and even the work place is harder and harder to cope with. We soon begin to grasp at anything that might help. Prescription meds and creams along with supplements begin to pile up. Some work for a while, but rosacea always seems to win at the end of the day.
Rosacea strikes about 14 million Americans. There is no known cure. Rosacea is almost always progressive, meaning our redness gets worse, disfigurement of the nose and face, fibrosis of the facial skin and papules and pustules form. Broken blood vessels and capillaries appear over the T zone of the face and sometimes the entire face and neck. Neuropathic chronic pain may occur in the face. Depression is very common if not universal. Social isolation and missed opportunities become common place.
So, how do we deal with this very common but virtually publicly unknown disease? The first step is to recognise that we have rosacea. Most doctors would be able to tell if you do, but many have been misdiagnosed with other conditions. Many online help groups such as Rosacea Support Group at Yahoo is a good place to start. RSG has many achives of previous treatments that have been successful or not, and the members will walk you through the disease. The only thing that is discussed is rosacea and the treatment of rosacea. You will be in good hands and company, because everyone in the group has rosacea and is willing to help and offer advice.
Rosacea is hard to treat. The reason being not everyone responds the same way. Not everyone has the same symptoms and medicines and other treatments work for some and not for others. Another point to make is many rosaceans have ocular effects. The eyes become involved with infections, tearing, dryness and redness. Some rare cases of blindness have occurred.
I will talk about the pathology and treatment as we go along in this blog and welcome any comments.
Dr Steve Johnson