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Rosacea is a very common skin complaint that mainly affects the face. The condition will present as the skin becoming red for short periods, this can also referred to as flushing. Other associated symptoms can include:
- Permanent redness
- A burning or stinging sensation
- Small blood vessels that are visible in the skin
Rosacea is a condition that is prone to relapsing. This means you will experience episodes of severe symptoms that will be followed by periods where the condition is less severe. An episode of rosacea can be triggered by numerous factors, with different people having different triggers. The most common triggers are:
- Exposure to hot or cold temperatures
- Strong winds
- Alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
- Spicy food and dairy products
- Sunlight exposure
- The menopause
It isn’t fully understood what exactly causes rosacea. There are a number of possible factors that have been suggested. It is believed by some experts that rosacea is caused by a blood vessel abnormality. However, what causes this particular abnormality is still unknown.
More recent research has suggested that the external triggers of rosacea can lead to the activation of molecules in the skin known as peptides. Having excess levels of peptides in the skin can activate both the immune and neurovascular systems of the skin. This activation can cause the blood vessels to dilate, resulting in redness and inflammation.
Another possible cause is microscopic mites called demodex folliculorum. These mites usually reside harmlessly on human skin. Sufferers of rosacea present with higher numbers of these mites and research suggests rosacea can be caused by the skin’s reaction to the bacteria found in the mite’s faeces.
Alternatively, a current theory suggests that a bacteria found in the digestive system, helicobacter pylori bacteria, is the cause of rosacea. This theory argues that helicobacter pylori stimulates the production of a protein called bradykinin. This protein is known to cause blood vessels to expand and hence cause the effects of rosacea.
It is apparent that rosacea is more common in families. This could suggest a genetic cause of the condition. However, it is not clear which genes are involved or how the condition is passed on.