Rosy cheeks? It may be rosacea.

Rosy cheeks may be a symbol of health and vitality, but they also can be caused by an uncomfortable condition called rosacea. Rosacea causes redness and swelling of the face and lesions that look like pimples. These symptoms often appear across the cheeks and nose like a mask, but also may show up on the ears, chest, and back. 

Anyone can develop rosacea, but it’s most common in fair-skinned women between the ages of 30 and 50. More than 16 million Americans live with rosacea, including former president Bill Clinton. 

Rosacea develops slowly over time. It first appears as a blush that comes and goes, followed by a red complexion that doesn't go away. Rosacea progresses to thick bumps on the face if left untreated.  

How we diagnose rosacea

Affected areas appear red and may show tiny blood vessels on the skin's surface (telangiectasias) and small, red bumps or acne. In advanced cases, enlarged oil glands may cause a bulbous nose (rhinophyma) and puffy cheeks. Some patients may experience a burning or a gritty sensation in the eyes (ocular rosacea).

Rosacea treatment options

Rosacea often can be managed with changes to your skin care routine. The doctor likely will recommend that you stop using soaps and moisturizers that contain alcohol, which can dry out the skin.  

The doctor may prescribe one or more of the following to help clear up your skin:

  • Topical antibiotics such as metronidazole
  • Topical cleansers and creams such as benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid
  • Oral antibiotics to reduce inflammation, such as tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, or erythromycin

Your doctor may recommend isotretinoin (Accutane) if your condition is severe or if other treatments don’t work for you. We also offer laser therapy to close off dilated blood vessels or remove excess tissue in severe cases. 

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