Baby-boomer Disease

Some 14 million baby-boomers think they have something called adult acne, but in fact, the inflammatory skin disease that affects so many fair-skinned adults between the ages of 30 and 60 has nothing to do with pimples. Rosacea is an inflammatory skin disease that hits more women than men and can have a devastating affect on your self-esteem as it alters your appearance.

Progressive and Cyclic

As the name implies, rosacea causes a rosy discoloration of the face. Depending upon the stage of the disorder, you may see pus-filled swellings called pustules and mistake them for acne or boils. Rosacea is a progressive disease, so it's important to recognize and treat it early. Many people with the condition mistake it for other dermatological problems, for instance, they may think they have eczema, acne, or an allergic reaction. Once a diagnosis of rosacea is confirmed, however, it's very easy to manage and treat.

If you think you may have rosacea, you'll want to compare your symptoms with our checklist:

Areas of facial redness, usually central

Pus-filled bumps on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin, that differ in appearance from whiteheads.

Red, swollen-looking nose (rhinophyma)

Small, apparent blood vessels on the cheeks and nose

Eyes feel sore, sandy (ocular rosacea)

Facial flushing

Rosacea is progressive and tends to appear in stages or phases as follows:

Pre-rosacea—at first, there is a tendency to blush with more ease and more often, which then settles into an unyielding state of central facial redness as a result of the dilation of the small blood vessels that are closest to the surface of your skin.

Vascular rosacea—the blood vessels begin to swell and are more apparent (telangiectasia). This stage may be accompanied by dandruff and oily skin, and some may find that their skin becomes hyper-sensitive.

Inflammatory rosacea—small, red, pus-filled bumps or pustules can last for quite a while and may spread from one area of the face to another.

Less often, a more severe phase of the disease is seen in which the sebaceous or oil glands in the nose and cheeks grow, causing a buildup of tissue on the nose and surrounding areas (rhinophyma). This tends to occur more often in men than in women with the most famous case being that of the comedian W.C. Fields.

Half of all rosacea sufferers will experience ocular rosacea in which the inner skin of the eyelids becomes inflamed with a scaly appearance. This condition is known as conjunctivitis.