What is this patchy red stuff on my face?

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Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that affects adults. It causes redness in your face and produces small, red, pus-filled bumps.

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. Symptoms include facial flushing, redness, burning, red bumps and cysts - particularly on the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. These symptoms tend to come and go. The skin might be clear for weeks, months, or years and then erupt again.

Q. What causes rosacea?

A. Although the cause of rosacea is not known, it's likely due to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors.

Q. Isn't rosacea like acne?

A. Although rosacea is sometimes called "adult acne," it is basically different than acne. Unlike common teenage acne, rosacea occurs most often in adults (ages 30 to 50), especially those with fair skin.

Q. How is rosacea treated?

A. Rosacea cannot be completely eliminated. However, effective treatment can provide relief. Typically, treatment requires a combination of prescription treatments and some lifestyle changes.

Q. What kind of lifestyle changes?

A. First, minimize your exposure to anything that causes a flare-up. Find out what factors affect you, and try to avoid them. Other precautions include: wearing sunscreen, protecting your face from wind, not becoming overheated, not touching or rubbing your face, washing problem areas with a gentle cleanser, avoiding facial products that contain alcohol or other skin irritants, using products that are noncomedogenic (these won't clog your oil and pores as much), and not drinking alcohol.

Q. I've heard that drinking alcohol causes rosacea. True?

A. Not true - alcohol doesn't cause rosacea. While the consumption of alcohol can lead to flushing of the skin and might worsen rosacea, people who don't drink alcohol can still get rosacea.

Q. How long will it take before I see results from treatment?

A. It depends on the type and severity of your symptoms, but typically you'll notice an improvement within one to two months. Because symptoms may recur if you stop taking medications, long-term regular treatment is often necessary.

If you think you might have rosacea, consult a dermatologist about the best treatment plan for you.

Dr. Oswald Lightsey Mikell, certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is the owner of Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry.

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