It is a chronic inflammatory disease of the face in which the skin becomes abnormally flushed. At times it can become pustular and weepy. The condition may affect both sexes in all age groups but it is more common in women in their middle or late middle ages. The cause is unknown. Rosacea usually affects the hair follicles and their associated sebaceous glands involving most commonly the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. Sometimes the neck and upper chest may be affected. It is accompanied by an increased reactivity of the capillaries causing temporary flushing (in the initial stages) and “permanent” erythema (redness) in later stages. Interspersed inflamed pinhead papules and pustules may also appear.
As the condition progresses, the erythema does not fade and permanent dilation of the capillaries results – (telangiectasia). Chronic and deep inflammation of the nose may occur, mainly in males, leading to rhinophyma (bulbous craggy swelling of the nose). Lymphoedema (swelling) around the eyes and the forehead may develop.
When involvement of the eyes occurs the following symptoms may be experienced:
- Mild conjunctivitis with soreness and lacrimation (overproduction of eye fluid-tears)
- Blepharitis – inflammation of the eyelids
- Inflammation of the cornea (keritis) and the sclera – the whites of the eyes (Scleritis) may occur.
- Should the eyes be involved it is important for the patient to be referred to an Opthalmologist (Eye Specialist).
In rare cases Otophyma – cauliflower-like swelling of the earlobes and Gnathophyma- swelling of the chin may occur.