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'Distressingly for sufferers, rosacea can be misconstrued as a sign of alcohol abuse'.

Rosacea is often mistaken, by the public at least, as a sign of alcohol abuse. But this skin condition is nothing of the kind, and cases are rising steeply. Professor Harryono Judodihardjo, of the Cellite Clinic in Cardiff, explains ROSACEA is a chronic, long-term skin condition that typically manifests itself as flushing and inflammation on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and around the mouth.

It is often accompanied by pustules - pus-filled pimples and/or papules - red pimples.

However, the condition can vary substantially from one person to the next, and can encompass people who suffer from extremely sensitive or easily irritated skin.

Severe rosacea is often misdiagnosed, and distressingly for sufferers, is sometimes misconstrued by fellow members of the public as the result of alcohol abuse.

As symptoms tend to emerge slowly, rosacea can also initially be mistaken for sunburn.

Rosacea cases are on the increase - the reasons for this are not entirely understood, although an increased awareness of the condition may be playing a part.

With information abounding on the internet, members of the public are far more likely to self-diagnose than in the past, and they are also better informed about treatment.

Yet despite increased awareness, too many sufferers still believe that the condition will clear up, given time.

This is far from being the case. If left untreated, the redness becomes more permanent, and, in extreme cases, can cause considerable disfigurement.

Many others suffer the misery of a blemished complexion, unaware that help is available.

Rosacea is also known as acne rosacea or adult acne, but is a different condition to the more common acne vulgaris, although the two are often confused.

The condition generally appears between the ages of 30 to 50. Although it affects all skin types, it is more common in fair-skinned people.

No one knows for certain what causes rosacea, but certain factors may be related to its development.

For example, it is thought that a disorder of the blood vessels causes them to swell, leading to flushing.

Another theory is that genetic predisposition, combined with certain environmental factors, may irritate the skin and cause the symptoms associated with rosacea.

What is certain is that the condition is aggravated by a wide range of factors, including physical and mental stress, extremes in temperature, sinus and allergy conditions, cold, sunlight, rain, wind, alcohol, spicy foods and hot liquids.

At present, there is no cure, but the condition does respond to treatment.

A number of options are available, but before embarking upon any of them it is essential that patients consult with a medical practitioner, as treatments will vary according to each individual's symptoms.

Types of treatment include:

Laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment - a modern cosmetic procedure routinely used to treat acne and wrinkles. Lasers and IPL use light energy which is absorbed by the haemoglobin in the blood and converted to heat, which damages the dilated red veins causing them to shrink. This will then reduce the flushing and redness on the face;

Oral and topical antibiotics - these can relieve the signs associated with rosacea such as pustules and papules.

Generally speaking a topical antibiotic is suitable for a mild case, while a moderate or severe case requires treatment with oral antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment only helps a little with the redness and flushing;

Cosmetic options - camouflage creams are available on prescription. The British Red Cross offers a Cosmetic Camouflage Service, available nationally, that assists with use of camouflage creams.

But there are a number of lifestyle recommendations which can also help, including drinking plenty of water, avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and sugar and avoiding stressful situations, wherever possible.

Anger and embarrassment may result in flushing, and trigger rosacea symptoms. People should also try to avoid hot baths, and apply cool water to affected areas to prevent overheating. It is also recommended that sufferers keep a diary over a period of weeks in order to establish what triggers a flare-up.: Rosacea fact file:Acne rosacea, or adult acne, is a different condition from the more common acne vulgaris, although the two are often confused. Rosacea generally appears between the ages of 30 and 50, although this may vary. Rosacea often progresses from intermittent to persistent facial redness with pimples. Many doctors advise that rosacea sufferers apply sunblock daily, whatever the level of sunshine, to avoid aggravating the problem.

In extreme though relatively uncommon cases, rosacea can cause considerable disfigurement. This includes large inflamed nodules on the face, coarsening and thickening of the skin, large open pores, thickened folds and ridges on the skin that may resemble those of a leprosy sufferer. Very often in older men the nose becomes red, bumpy, and swollen. Further information about the condition is available by logging on to: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk www.rosacea.org www.dermnetnz.org www.bad.org.uk
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 25, 2006
Words:807
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