Rosacea effects go beyond the skin

Rosacea is a skin disorder that affects millions of Americans and yet nearly all of those afflicted by the life-altering ailment say they knew nothing about it before being diagnosed.

Rosacea affects an adult’s facial features with some symptoms similar to those experienced with acne during a person’s teen years. Flushing, pimples and prominent blood vessels break out on a person’s face and are usually brought on by a myriad of triggers. It is estimated that 16 million Americans suffer from Rosacea, 95 percent of which never heard of the disorder, according to the American Rosacea Society (ARS).

“People can react to rosacea in several different ways when they first experience its symptoms,” says Joshua Ordway, MD, a primary care physician with Franklin Family Medicine. “Some individuals who come in to my office think they are experiencing teenage acne again and others are frustrated by the reoccurring rash on their face and want a solution.’”

It is unknown as to why a person develops rosacea, but history has shown that it carries a hereditary component and often first presents itself in adults 30 years and older. The disorder isn’t life-threatening, however, it can be life-altering for those who experience its symptoms.

“Since it is a rash that is in a prominent area – the face – it can affect a person’s self-esteem and even their socialization,” says Dr. Ordway, who practices with Premier HealthNet. “Someone who is not familiar with rosacea and sees a person exhibiting its symptoms may think they are contagious and avoid them even though it is harmless.”

Recent research suggests that rosacea may be associated with an increased incidence of other disorders such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke and even brain and thyroid cancers, the ARS says.

The good news is that there are prescription medications to treat the condition and rosacea triggers can be avoided to minimize the symptoms. The ARS offers the following steps to help sufferers avoid or keep rosacea flare-ups under control:

Know your triggers. Identify the lifestyle and environmental factors that contribute to flare-ups. Diligently note the circumstances surrounding a flare-up such as the weather, personal stress or food that was recently digested. A diary can be used to initially identify triggers.

Keep cool. Heat is a trigger shared by nearly all rosacea sufferers. Apply a cool compress to your face or mist yourself with a spray bottle with cool water when you feel yourself begin to overheat in warmer weather or while exercising. Chew on ice chips to help control flushing.

Minimize stress. Make decisions that will help you avoid stress. Don’t allow your schedule to become too full and plan times of downtime from normal routines.

Avoid sun and wind. Sun exposure can aggravate rosacea. Use a daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Stay in the shade during peak sun hours and wear a brimmed hat. Wear a scarf to help protect your face on windy days.

Medication adherence. Take medication prescribed by your doctor. Diligent use of medication can maintain long-term remission of signs and symptoms.

For more information on rosacea or to find a Premier HealthNet physician near you, visit www.premierhealthnet.com/doctor.

Premier HealthNet is one of the largest groups of pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, and urgent care practices in southwest Ohio. For more information, go online to www.premierhealthnet.com/news.

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