Rosacea is a distressing and psychologically debilitating skin condition that affects an astounding 16 million or 5 percent of Americans. If you believe recent reports from the National Rosacea Society (NRS), the figures may be even worse. In a Harvard Medical School study, NRS researchers found a prevalence rate for rosacea of 16 percent in Caucasian women and an overall rosacea incidence of nearly 10 percent ina total population that also included Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians and Indians.
Rosacea, a Latin term that can be defined as “rose-colored”, shows up as redness on the cheeks and nasal area, although it sometimes involves oily skin, at which point it acquires the moniker “seborrhea”. In some especially unfortunate patients, blemishes and pustules can form and the skin around the nose can become thickened. Even more disturbing is rosacea that affects the eye, a condition that can result in ocular dryness, grittiness and a burning sensation. Still, despite it’s appearance, rosacea is best thought of not as a skin or eye problem, but rather as a circulatory one. This should be obvious, as the dilated blood vessels that are the featured characteristic of the rosacea patient, are located, not on top of the skin, but rather in the blood vessels located in the deeper tissues below.
Still, dermatologists and estheticians, as well as their patients, address the surface of the skin as the main target of therapies to alleviate the distressing ruddiness of rosacea. If you go to a skin care professional to treat the condition, more than likely, you’re going to leave with a prescription or suggestion for a topical cream or lotion, most often an antibiotic and occasionally an anti-inflammatory steroid. Sometimes laser therapy is suggested and occasionally exfoliation and skin peels are used. Recently, a pharmaceutical company called Foamix announced, with great fanfare, the results of a study on a new product called FMX 103, that showed a “statistically significant” reduction in lesions and pustules of rosacea patients. FMX 103 is a patented foaming, retooled version of minocycline, an old-time antibiotic that has been used to treat various skin conditions for 50 years.