Acne & Rosacea: Redness on Bill Clinton & Prince Charles?

Some may think the redness on the face of these powerful men is due to alcohol, but there’s a more ordinary explanation, and it is common to many (acne & rosacea).

What do Bill Clinton and Prince Charles have in common? The answer: rosacea, a ruddy complexion that in some cases can mistakenly be attributed to a problem with alcohol.

This is only one of the challenges facing those with the debilitating skin condition rosacea (pronounced rose-ay-sha). Many have never heard of it and assume their red face and flushing are merely a sign of ageing.

While there are undoubtedly more sufferers over the age of 40, there are still others in their early 20s or 30s who have not been diagnosed  -  surprising given that it affects one in ten of those in the UK.

Rosacea can be treated effectively in most people. However, there are no quick fixes, and if it cannot be cured it is vital to find a way to keep it under control.

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Help for Teen Acne & Rosacea?

Helping teens with their acne & rosacea problems has not been easy.  A common complaint is that the common acne medications causes more facial dryness and redness.  There are new medications that could help.

What about the quick acne-fixes advertised on television? “If a teen has mild acne, some over the counter acne products containing benzoyl peroxide may be helpful. But, it is very important before a parent agrees to spend upwards of $30 a month on some of the celebrity touted ‘miracle’ acne products, that for moderate to severe acne they are not a solution. Eventually they lose their effectiveness and don’t work,” explains Dr. Berson. “The reason is they lack the effective percentage of drugs to help them get the job done. That’s why they’re available without prescription.”

Seeing a dermatologist with your teen is not succumbing to vanity or over-reacting, explain the expert dermatologists who comprise the American Acne & Rosacea Society. “Acne can leave devastation in its wake, turning teens away from social interaction and worse yet, contributing to depression. It’s not something to be taken lightly,” says Guy Webster, MD, PhD and founding president of the Society. “When a teen begins to manifest acne lesions, a parent has to be vigilant and see how it’s affecting their child. The signs that there’s distress are often not that easy to discern and can be attributed to myriad other teen issues, but a conversation about acne is a good starting point. When over the counter acne products begin to show up in your teen’s bedroom or bathroom, it’s usually a tell tale sign that acne has crossed the line into being perceived as a problem.”

“Unlike the parent/teen dialogue about drugs or smoking, acne isn’t a conversation that ends with ‘just say no,’ ” says Dr. Webster. “It has to start with a parent just saying ‘yes,’ and recognizing that their teen may be in trouble.”

Acne & Rosacea: Parent’s Guide

Telling your kids that they will outgrow their pubescent facial woes and that they should stop worrying may be losing its credibility.

Parents have been asked to have myriad conversations with their teenage children about sex, drugs and alcohol, but the emotional and physical scarring of acne often goes unaddressed. Yet, according to dermatologists from The American Acne & Rosacea Society, the damage caused by acne is very real and often misunderstood. Some teens who have a face full of acne may truly be fine with it and go about their daily lives largely unaffected. For others one pimple can be traumatic. How does a parent know the difference?

“We live in a society in which appearance is greatly valued and teenagers are exposed to messaging about this on a daily basis. It has an effect, no matter how resilient the teenager may be,” says Diane Berson, a New York City-based dermatologist and a member of The American Acne & Rosacea Society. “So, now as your teens head back to school, especially those just beginning high school, acne is a topic that parents should not ignore. It is a conversation to have with your sons and daughters.”

But, talking may not be enough, point out these experts. Action may also be required and taking your teen for a visit to the dermatologist could help not only with their acne, but their self-esteem and emotional balance as well. “With the advent of social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, teens are always ripe for ending up as targets of malicious assaults by almost anyone they know. Being referred to as ‘pizza face,’ isn’t pleasant – having it broadcast to one’s entire universe is humiliating,” stresses Dr. Berson.

Acne & Rosacea Misinformation

The false notion that acne and rosacea is not a real disease but simply cosmetic must end, the Acne & Rosacea Soceity says.

“There are so many myths and marketing terms used to sell ineffective treatments for these diseases,” commented New York dermatologist, Diane Berson, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and director of communications for the AARS. Among these erroneous claims and myths are:

• Cosmetics routinely cause acne

• “Studies show.” This casually used expression often refers to a marketing study and not a bona fide clinical study. A real clinical study, as one conducted for a drug, includes variables and FDA procedural guidelines that are not required in television advertising.

• Celebrity endorsements of some over the counter products lead consumers to believe in their efficacy, when in fact these products often don’t work for a lot of people with moderate to severe acne.

The doctors agree that the widespread concept of “why should I bother seeing a dermatologist when I can treat this myself,” can have many adverse consequences. These may include:
• The reinforcement of the misperception of acne as being merely cosmetic

• If purportedly efficacious therapies (often without any supporting evidence) are available over-the-counter, acne and rosacea sufferers may delay seeking proper medical treatment

• Acne thought leaders are no longer scientists and physicians, but Jessica Simpson, Vanessa Williams, and P. Diddy

• Patients in real need of medical care take matters into their own hands, relying on unproven treatments and potentially harmful behaviors (e.g., squeezing, extractions, etc.)

• Patients delay seeing a doctor, possibly allowing their condition to worsen and to develop long-standing (perhaps permanent) consequences such as scarring

• What a patient self-diagnoses as acne may not, in fact, be “garden variety” acne at all, but may instead point to an internal problem (such as polycystic ovary syndrome) that may have more serious health ramifications

“The consequences of mismanaged or self treatment are dealt with in dermatologists’ offices nationwide on a daily basis. Self-loathing, low self esteem, lack of social interaction and even suicide are linked to the sometimes devastating effects of these two medical diseases,” emphasized Dr. Baldwin. “It’s time to begin to ‘clear things up,’ ”she concluded.

Acne & Rosacea: Not getting the right treatment?

The Acne & Rosacea Society (AARS) says millions of Americans who are suffering from acne and/or rosacea are not being met with acceptable treatment.

“One size does not fit all when it comes to treatment for acne and rosacea,” stated New York dermatologist, Hilary Baldwin, MD, Vice Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, State University of New York – Downstate, and president of the AARS. “These two diseases are at nearly epidemic levels. Between them they may affect close to 100 million people.” According to Dr. Baldwin, “Mild skin irritations may be corrected by a little moisturizing lotion and a gentler soap; but acne and rosacea are legitimate diseases with well-worked out causes and carefully studied treatments. They are diseases that have great consequences that can last a lifetime.”

Most Over-the-Counter Products Ultimately Fail

“What we’re seeing in our offices is that over-the-counter products ultimately fail most patients,” emphasized Dr. Baldwin. According to the AARS, both acne and rosacea are chronic, long-term or lifelong conditions with day-to-day unpredictability. “Dermatologists and the use of the right medications can iron out the peaks and valleys of both diseases so one’s first glance in the mirror doesn’t have to be so disappointing. Life is too short to hate one’s reflection. Spot treatment, inconsistent treatment and inappropriate treatment breeds unpredictability. 
We believe that good treatment consists of ‘pro-acting,’ not reacting,” said Dr. Baldwin.

Taking the Right Steps Early On Matters

“See a dermatologist early,” said Guy Webster, MD, Ph.D, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Jefferson Medical College and the immediate past president of the AARS. “People invariably see better results when they seek treatment earlier. Scars, both physical and emotional, can be prevented. Persistence with better medications yields better results and costs less for patients overall. It actually costs less to be correctly diagnosed and treated right off the bat than spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on products that simply lack the long term efficacy and strength to do the job.”