Rosacea is a chronic condition characterized by a redness of the skin that resembles sunburn. Redness caused by rosacea often comes and goes at first but over time becomes lasting. Rosacea may be prompted by a variety of triggers, such as heat, caffeine, or stress. NYU Langone doctors can determine whether your symptoms are caused by rosacea or another condition, as well as the type of rosacea that may be affecting your skin.
There are four types of rosacea, though many people experience symptoms of more than one type.
Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is characterized by persistent redness on the face. Small blood vessels beneath the skin surface may become enlarged and visible; these symptoms often flare up and then disappear. Without treatment, the redness can get more persistent, cover more skin, and even become permanent.
Papulopustular rosacea is associated with “whitehead” pustules, which are pus-filled blemishes, and red, swollen bumps. These typically appear on the cheeks, chin, and forehead and are frequently misidentified as acne. Facial redness and flushing may appear, as well. Severe papulopustular rosacea can cause upwards of 40 blemishes that can take a long time to go away. Blemishes may also appear on the scalp, neck, or chest.
Phymatous rosacea causes skin to thicken and scar, making it bumpy, swollen, and sometimes discolored. This rare but treatable type most often affects the nose—resulting in what is sometimes called a bulbous nose, or rhinophyma—and appears more frequently in men than in women.
In ocular rosacea, symptoms affect the eyes, causing them to look watery or bloodshot. There may be an associated feeling of burning or irritation in your eyes. Ocular rosacea can cause persistently dry, sensitive eyes, and cysts may form on the eyelids. Ocular symptoms of rosacea may be more common than previously thought, because the connection between skin symptoms and the eyes can be easily overlooked.
Identifying the type or types of rosacea that cause your symptoms is just one part of a complete diagnosis. It is equally important for you and your doctor to understand which of your everyday habits and routines may be contributing to your symptoms. Dermatologists at NYU Langone have seen all types of rosacea and can diagnose the type or types that are causing your symptoms and recommend treatment to improve the look and feel of your skin.
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