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A Rosacea Update for National Rosacea Awareness Month

Posted on: April 2nd, 2018 by Shany Batbold

This April marks the 15th annual National Rosacea Awareness Month. Over the past 15 years, scientific research has made progress on rosacea. Our medical understanding of what causes rosacea and how to treat it have moved forward. But there is still much to learn. For now, you can count on your California Skin Institute dermatologist to provide you with the latest treatments and best rosacea management strategies science can offer.

What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a skin condition affecting over 16 million Americans. A rosy complexion is often thought of as an attribute of beauty. Cosmetics like rouge and blush have long sought to artificially create rosiness. But for those who suffer from rosacea, in which enlarged facial blood vessels give the face – especially the cheeks and nose – an excessively flushed appearance, the condition can cause overwhelming distress and embarrassment.

Some types of rosacea can also include acne-like pimples as well as swelling and thickening of facial areas; especially the nose. Mild rosacea can progress to these more severe symptoms if not treated. Rosacea-like symptoms also could be an indication of another disease such as lupus. That’s why professional intervention is important.

If you develop a persistent blotchy redness on your face, see a dermatologist as soon as possible for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

What Causes Rosacea?
Rosacea is thought to be caused by a genetically abnormal release of inflammatory chemicals from skin cells. These substances are normally released in response to infection. In Rosacea, proteins such as human defensins or cathelocidins are released into the skin by abnormal triggers such as heat, spicy or thermally hot foods or drink, exercise, alcohol, and menses. There are different kinds of rosacea: some are flat and red with enlarged blood vessels, some have pimples and pustules, one type is the “W.C. Fields nose” called rhinophima. The lower eyelids may be affected. We have excellent treatments for all types of rosacea.

Researchers now believe there may be a genetic component to rosacea. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers recently discovered two genetic variants in rosacea, located in areas of the human genome associated with autoimmune disease. Because a genome, found in every cell, contains our complete set of DNA, the research process is very complex. But it offers hope for the future. “If genetic coding specific to rosacea is found, individuals at risk may be identified through a blood test so that early intervention and avoidance of triggers may be possible,” states the National Rosacea Society.

How is Rosacea Medically Treated?
At California Skin Institute, we understand that no two cases of rosacea are completely alike. We will tailor medical treatments to your specific rosacea as part of an overall rosacea management plan. Depending on your individual needs, here are some treatment options we will explore with you:

Prescription topical ointments Medicated ointments that we have seen proven effective in managing rosacea symptoms include metronidazole, azelaic acid, Elidel, and Soolantra.

Prescription pills Helping your body’s systems internally control rosacea can be important. For this, we may prescribe a low-dose anti-inflammatory oral medication called doxycycline.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) IPL laser can be used in combination with other treatments to improve the complexion of patients that have rosacea although it is not a stand-alone treatment option.

12 Top Rosacea Triggers
Managing your rosacea through medication is just one part of your treatment plan. Your dermatologist can help you identify elements of your lifestyle and environment that cause your rosacea to flare-up. These are called triggers. You may need to keep a rosacea journal to track your flare-ups and pair them with possible triggers.

Here is a list of 12 top rosacea triggers based on a National Rosacea Society survey of over 1,000 rosacea patients:


Percent Affected

Sun exposure


Emotional stress


Hot weather




Heavy exercise


Alcohol consumption


Hot baths


Cold weather


Spicy foods




Indoor heat


Certain skin care




For more on rosacea, including how to enjoy yourself in the sun – the leading rosacea trigger factor – see Rosacea: Managing and Treating Summer Flare.