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Rosacea in the Elderly

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Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is also known as an adult version of acne. Although it is possible, this condition rarely occurs in children under the age of 30. The main characteristic is redness and inflammatory papules (bumps) on the affected area. The affected parts of the body includes mostly the facial area, namely the cheeks, nose, and forehead. However, it has been known to also affect the neck, chest, and ears (but less common).

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Causes

There isn’t a set cause of Rosacea, but there is agreement that affected people have been exposed to some of the following set of stimuli:

  • Extreme exercise
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Long-time exposure to sunlight or sunburn
  • Stress, anxiety
  • Flushing of the face (eg Entering a hot area immediately after leaving a cold one)
  • Ingestion of hot liquids
  • Smoking

As with many conditions, family history and genetics play a big part in whether or not you are at risk of Rosacea. Although it occurs in both males and females, Rosacea is three times more common in females. Similar to skin cancer, this condition is also more common in Caucasian people.

Symptoms

Individuals who have Rosacea will experience redness on their faces, along with inflammatory papules and pustules (pus-filled papules). Even though its symptoms are similar to acne, blackheads are not present. Here are the list of symptoms for someone with Rosacea:

  • Eye irritation (redness in the eyes): These include dry and/or swollen eyelids
  • Enlarged nose: The skin on the nose may thicken, which causes the nose to seem bigger
  • Facial redness: Typically occurs in the central area of the face around the nose and cheeks
  • Inflammatory papules: Swollen red bumps (may contain pus) on the affected areas

Treatment

As mentioned earlier, the symptoms of Rosacea are very commonly confused with those of acne. This causes it to be wrongly diagnosed and treated as acne. Doctors will typically perform skin biopsies or lab tests to confirm your condition to verify it.

The treatment of Rosacea depends on which type it is, and its severity. Doctors will typically direct you to a dermatologist to determine which method of treatment will work best for you. Types of treatment are not curative, which means that the goal is to reduce the symptoms (facial color, bumps, etc). Some examples are oral and topical (applied directly to the body) antibiotics. Laser therapy has been used as well.

Treatments may last a lifetime, but there are many cases where symptoms are permanently suppressed after a few years, or less.

Complications

In the extremely rare case of Rosacea, the sebaceous glands (oil producing glands) in your cheeks and nose will enlarge. This results in tissue building up on the nose, and in the areas around it, producing a condition called rhinophyma. This condition develops slowly over time, and is more common in males.


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