Rosacea Overview

Complications from Rosacea

Rosacea's complications include both physical and psychological effects. One physical complication is rhinophyma, which occurs when sebaceous glands in the nose slowly expand. This expansion causes a tissue buildup on and around the nose, leading to a bulbous nose (think W.C. Fields). This complication affects male rosacea patients much more often than female sufferers. Lasers, electrosurgery, dermabrasion and the removal of excess skin with a scalpel -- sometimes a combination of these procedures -- are used to treat rhinophyma [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

Cornea damage and vision problems are rare but possible complications from ocular rosacea. That's why it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible for eye symptoms. Oral antibiotics and steroid eye drops are both effective in combating ocular rosacea.

Since rosacea may be treated with antibiotics, some patients may experience side effects from the ongoing use of these medications, such as microbial resistance. To avoid this complication, your doctor may prescribe topical antibiotics for your long-term treatment. Patients may also be treated with an antibiotic specifically made for rosacea treatment that's less likely to result in microbial resistance [source: National Rosacea Society].

Rosacea also brings a variety of social and emotional effects and can negatively impact a patient's sense of self-worth and ability to function in social and professional situations. National Rosacea Society surveys indicate that 76 percent of patients experienced a negative impact on confidence and self-esteem. In addition, about 70 percent said rosacea impacted their careers, and the physical effects of rosacea effects caused almost 30 percent to miss work [source: National Rosacea Society].

An anonymous airline pilot explained rosacea's impact on his career in a 2008 article in the New York Times. He said that part of his job is to inspire passengers' confidence in his ability to safely fly airplanes. Rosacea and rhinophyma made that difficult because many associate a bulbous nose with alcohol abuse. The pilot reported that he never came to work without paying careful attention to his skin care regimen [source: Sweeney].

While rosacea can lead to these complications, you can help keep the condition in check through diet. Continue to the next page to see how what you eat can affect your rosacea symptoms.