Rosacea: The red skin disorder
By Dr Y.L.M.
My friend has been suffering from red patches on her face for a very long time. At first, she thought she was just flushed from the heat, but it persisted for a very long time. Then she thought she was going to develop pimples, but they never came on. Finally, she went to a skin doctor and she was told she has rosacea. I have never heard of this condition. What is it?
Rosacea (pronounced roh-zay-sia) is a very common red skin disorder around the world, though it affects primarily white people who have fair skin. It's estimated that at least 45 million people around the world suffer from it.
It's uncommon in people with dark skin. It usually affects people in their 30s to 50s. Women are primarily the victims, though if you are a man, you might have a very severe version of it.
People who have rosacea have red or pink patches. Sometimes, you can see small broken blood vessels on these. Occasionally, there can be acne-like red bumps which may or may not contain pus. There may also be red cysts. It can also affect the eyes.
An example of a famous individual who suffers from it is former US president Bill Clinton.
It is not contagious or infectious, and you won't get it if you are close to someone who has it or use a face towel of someone who has it.
Is it then not common in Malaysia?
It's more common than we think. A statistical website gave its prevalence around the world as one out of 20 people.
Most people who have rosacea don't know they have it. They just assume they blush very easily or are sensitive to the sun or allergic to something.
Some people think it's acne and attempt to treat it with acne medicine. Others think they have rosy cheeks and are proud of it.
Some people even mistake it for sunburn.
Is rosacea only found on the face?
Yes, it's a facial skin condition. It involves the central region of your face where you usually find flushing, such as your forehead, lower half of your nose and chin. It affects especially your nose.
It has flares and remissions, and it comes and goes.
Rosacea is aggravated by blushing. Over time, it may become worse, especially if you don't recognise it and treat it.
It must be noted that rosacea can coexist with acne. But unlike acne, rosacea is an adult disease, whereas acne is a disease of teenagers. But most teenagers grow up and their acne disappears. Rosacea cannot be outgrown.