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The Mystery:

ROSACEA: Millions of Americans suffer from it. Even more surprisingly, many of those that suffer from rosacea do not even know they have it. It is easy to see why. For doctors and skin specialists alike, rosacea is still a mystery. Dermatologists and trained physicians prescribe new and different drugs to counteract ambiguous skin conditions every day to no avail. Rosacea is an enigma to dermatologists. Rosacea does NOT have to be a mystery as it is easy to understand.

The earliest recognizable stage of rosacea is called pre-rosacea. That blush of embarrassment that may pop up at an inopportune moment. The classic symptoms of pre-rosacea are patchy diffuse redness or flushing and inflammation, particularly on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and around the mouth. Pre-rosacea symptoms typically appear between the ages of 30 and 50 and may affect more women than men. Because the symptoms emerge slowly, rosacea may initially be mistaken for sunburn, leading to a delay in treatment. In this earliest stage, some sufferers may report stinging or burning sensations, including the feeling of dry or tight skin.

Many things can trigger a flushing episode, including exposure to the sun, emotional stress, alcohol, spicy foods, exercise, cold wind, hot foods and beverages, and hot baths. Flushing usually occurs when the body becomes fatigued and/or stressed which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.

The early signs and symptoms of rosacea may also occur as a result of products used to treat other skin conditions such as acne. As adults, when we get acne we have a tendency to treat it the same way we did as teenagers with over the counter cream or lotion packed with high concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and even topical vitamin A products. As our skin ages we find that the skin doesn't respond the same way to these acne products as it did when we were younger. The result is red blotchy areas, more breakouts; the facial skin may react by becoming oilier or dryer with increased skin sensitivity. In trying to control this, we apply even more and stronger treatments to our skin, but instead of seeing an improvement; we actually see more damage and skin-related issues as the skin creates more oil to protect it from the damage and abuse of these harsh chemicals. Thus creating a vicious cycle of over-medicating the skin causing increased facial redness, clogged pores and skin irritation.

Rosacea has all of the characteristics of other skin disorders. The many symptoms that mimic rosacea and the many skin conditions with symptoms similar to rosacea can make the diagnosis of rosacea difficult.

The butterfly rash of lupus can also lead to a mis-diagnosis of rosacea. A common symptom of lupus includes a red rash or color change on the face, often in the shape of a butterfly across the nose and cheeks, which can be mistaken for rosacea.

Acne is the term for plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and even deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms.

Eczema is used to describe all kinds of red, blistering, oozing, scaly, brownish, thickened, and itching skin conditions. Eczema is associated with dry, rough, red, itchy, skin dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing, or bleeding.

It is possible for these skin conditions to co-exist making successful rosacea treatment a very difficult endeavor. Treating rosacea or other skin conditions need not involve an endless round of laser treatments and antibiotics, it can be as simple as modifying your lifestyle to include positive rosacea health and skin care habits. The treatment of rosacea or any skin condition must involve treatment of the whole body. The key to controlling rosacea is awareness and early intervention.

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