What is rosacea?
The exact cause of rosacea is still not well understood . Although it does not pose any danger to your health, you may find its symptoms extremely bothersome. Thus, your quality of life can often be negatively affected.
Though rosacea affects Caucasian skin primarily , Asians are increasingly getting affected as well . As seen in my aesthetic practice, Asian women in their 30s and 40s are more prone to rosacea.
There are various treatments available, but that's because there is more than one type of rosacea. Below, I will discuss more on:
- what the 4 types of rosacea are
- laser treatments available for rosacea
- what are the side effects of these laser treatments
Symptoms of rosacea
When you have rosacea, you will experience the following symptoms:
- excessive facial redness
- easy flushing
- pimple-like bumps
- fine blood vessels that are visible on your face
When rosacea is active, you may experience an unbearably hot and burning sensation on the face , with your nose and cheeks being more commonly affected . Rosacea may also cause your eyelids to become inflamed, as well as being irritable .
This is the most common type seen in Singapore , characterised by persistent facial redness that worsens with:
- sun exposure
- emotional stress
Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea becomes more noticeable when the small blood vessels under the skin surface enlarge, becoming what we call spider telangiectases .
Often, facial redness is linked to the uncomfortable sensation of facial burning. The persistent redness of your face also often draws unwanted attention.
With this type of rosacea, pimple-like bumps appear on the :
The bumps do not have the usual blackheads that typify common acne. Thus, I have seen many patients wrongly identify it as banal acne .
Therefore, it is important that you consult a doctor as this will help ensure a correct diagnosis.
This causes the skin of the nose to thicken, become lumpy and misshapen . Dilated blood vessels tend to be present as well.
This type of rosacea may affect the eyes and the eyelids . It tends to cause inflammation, leading to eye discomfort and irritability.
To more accurately find out which type of rosacea you have, it is best to visit your doctor.
There is no specific test to diagnose rosacea . Your doctor will have to rely on the history of the symptoms faced, and examination of your skin.
You may also have to go through a few other tests to rule out conditions such as :
Different components of rosacea are tackled or treated differently.
To treat the inflammatory components such as pimple-like lesions, we will prescribe medicated creams and oral antibiotics.
The vascular component and tissue overgrowth of phymatous rosacea lend themselves well to laser and light treatments. Examples of the vascular component include redness and prominent blood vessels. Laser and medical treatments work hand in hand to give you the best treatment results .
There are different types of laser and light treatments that are effective in treating the symptoms of rosacea. They include:
They have been considered the gold standard in the treatment of the vascular component of rosacea for years .
A beam of yellow light, at a wavelength of 595nm, is emitted. The oxyhaemoglobin in the blood vessels will absorb the laser light emitted. The laser helps by sealing off the blood vessels as well as reducing overall redness.
As the treatments are spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart, it helps to achieve the best results by giving the skin some time for recovery.
A KTP laser produces light at a wavelength of 532nm. Similar to pulsed-dye lasers, the oxyhaemoglobin in the superficial blood vessels absorbs the light. This type of laser is effective in treating prominent dilated or enlarged blood vessels .
Long-pulsed Nd: YAG laser
The long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser operates in the domain of milliseconds. It is different from the Qs Nd:YAG pigment laser, which operates in nanoseconds.
As the long-pulsed Nd:YAG is able to penetrate deeper into the skin, it is useful in treating larger dilated blood vessels on areas such as the nose .
Also known as ablative lasers, they are able to treat issues pertaining to wrinkles and acne scars. When it comes to rosacea, they are able to remove overgrown glandular tissue seen in phymatous rosacea affecting the nose .
BONUS: Intense pulsed light therapy
Widely known as IPL, it uses controlled light in a restricted band. It does not emit light in the specific wavelength of a laser.
This band of IPL can target several skin problems at the same time. Hence, it is used to :
- treat redness of rosacea
- remove superficial pigmentation
- rejuvenate the skin
The multiple benefits of IPL include :
- reduction in facial redness
- removal of facial pigmentation
- improved skin clarity
- improved skin texture
The use of different IPL filters allows us to tailor treatment based on your needs and problems.
IPL treatments have little to no downtime as compared with laser treatments. For that reason, IPL is a preferred option for many patients, for example, those who are unable to take too much time off from work to recover.
Consulting a doctor is crucial for effective rosacea treatment
With so many types of treatments that are specific for certain types of conditions, you should always consult your doctor. He/she can precribe an effective treatment for your specific type of rosacea and its severity. You will be able better advised on the suitability, effects, and the process of the treatment.
It is possible to experience side effects after going for laser treatments. They include, but are not limited to:
- mild bruising
Do not worry -- these side effects fade away after a few days and you will recover. However, if the side effects persist, visit your doctor who will advise you on how you can manage and reduce the side effects.
Do not live with rosacea; get it treated
Do not give up on it just yet. There are effective treatment options for the inflammation and vascular problems caused by rosacea. Laser treatments complement medical treatments in reducing:
- cosmetically displeasing dilated blood vessels
- the glandular overgrowth that typifies rosacea
So do not let rosacea shackle you! You can tame the angry red beast, regain your skin's complexion and face the world with confidence again.
As mentioned earlier, when you are in doubt, I urge you to consult your doctor. He/she will be able to better advise you on which treatment is more suitable for your condition.
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Dr Chin Yee Choong is a medical director at DermClear Aesthetic & Laser Clinic. His area of practice is in the beauty aesthetics fields of dermatology and aesthetic medicine. In addition, he has had more than 12 years of experience in thread lifts and fillers. Besides that, he also regularly travels to keep himself well-informed of the newest treatments available.
Would you like to ask any related health questions?
Read more from Dr Chin Yee Choong in his Q&A here.