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Coping With and Treating Rosacea

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 20 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Rosacea is a life-long disease that affects the facial skin. This condition is recognised by the occurrence of a redness or ruddiness to the skin especially in the areas of the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. Although the condition is chronic, most patients do not suffer from the symptoms all of the time. In fact, the condition is known to come and go in spurts of flare-ups and remissions. Although there is no cure for rosacea, there are treatment options available that can help keep the condition under control. Along with medical treatment, most patients can also benefit from the instruction of coping skills. Since the disease produces symptoms that affect the face, many patients also suffer from lowered self-esteem, reduced self-confidence and embarrassment.

Treatment: What are the Options?

Rosacea treatment most commonly consists of oral medications, topical medications, and skin cleansing suggestions. For the best results, no matter which course of treatment a patient is on, sufferers are urged to continue treatment on a daily basis. Control and treatment of the disease is less effective when patients choose to treat the symptoms only during times of flare-ups.

When a patient first presents with rosacea, the dermatologist usually decides to start a combination treatment. The first part of this treatment is the prescribing of drugs. The oral medications can help jump start the treatment and bring the symptoms under control more quickly and effectively. The drugs that dermatologists prescribe to most successfully treat rosacea are oral antibiotics. These antibiotics, such as tetracycline, erythromycin, azithromycin, and minocycline, are used to control the flare-ups associated with rosacea and to treat the pustules that sometimes occur during episodes. Since the taking of antibiotics does carry some chance of experiencing side effects these drugs are usually only prescribed for a short period of time.

The second stage of treatment, topical medications, is used to help speed up the results obtained by oral antibiotics. These preparations are also used long-term to help keep the condition in remission. The three most common topical medications prescribed to rosacea sufferers are azaleic acid, metronidazole and sodium sulfacetamide combined with sulfur. These medications are available in cream, lotion, gel and ointment form and are used to reduce the redness that occurs in the facial skin. Unlike antibiotics, these medications use anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to reduce the appearance and frequency of the flare-ups.

For patients that are non-responsive to the above treatment, or for those with more severe episodes of the disease that can cause facial disfigurations, a few other treatment options are available. These more aggressive treatments include dermabrasion, laser therapy, and plastic surgery. Dermabrasion is used to remove the top layers of the skin so that smoother, less affected skin can form. This technique is also used on rosacea patients who suffer from thickened skin caused by the disease. Laser therapy is recommended for the removal of the broken blood vessels that cause further reddening of the skin. Plastic surgery is the most aggressive form of treatment and is used to remove excess tissue and reshape facial skin that has been badly damaged from rosacea.

Coping with Rosacea

Even with regular treatments and long-term management skills, some patients will still continue to suffer from flare-ups. Since these flare-ups result in the blemishing or marring of the facial skin, many sufferers are embarrassed about their appearance. To help patients cope, many dermatologists recommend patients learn coping skills. These skills include learning more about the disease to increase awareness, attending support groups, and learning how to properly care for the skin.

By learning more about rosacea, sufferers can better understand their symptoms. With greater understanding comes a better sense of control over the condition and a better view of the condition as a whole. Support groups can also help with this understanding and they also show patients that they are not alone in their situation. By speaking with other sufferers patients can learn ways to explain their condition without embarrassment, ways to hide their flare-ups with make up, and ways to boost their self-confidence when a flare-up occurs.

The final coping skill, properly cleansing the skin, can help patient take better care of their skin and help reduce the frequency of flare-ups. Rosacea sufferers are advised to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 everyday, choose cleansers that are mild, non-abrasive, and additive free, and to avoid the use of washcloths or harsh materials that can breakdown their skin.

Managing the Symptoms for Life

With the right treatment, support and skin care regime in place, many rosacea patients are able to substantially control their condition. However, since this condition is lifelong, patients are urged to take steps to continue learning new ways to treat their disorder and new ways to avoid flare-ups. Continue seeing your dermatologist as recommended even when you think the condition is getting better. Avoid skipping treatments, even for one day. Journal your outbreaks so you and your doctor can look for triggers that may be making your condition worse. And finally, learn to focus on yourself and not your rosacea. With the right attitude you too can cope with rosacea successfully.

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