Ever seen pictures of W.C. Fields and his red, bulbous nose? While most people assume this feature was caused by Fields’ famous fondness for alcohol, it was far more likely rhinophyma, a severe form of rosacea.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition marked by inflammation of the cheeks, nose, forehead, and sometimes eyelids. Symptoms include redness, skin breakouts similar to acne, spider veins, swelling, and a red, bulbous nose. Although no one knows precisely what causes rosacea, fair-skinned people between the ages of 30 and 55 who blush or flush easily have a heightened risk for developing it. While women are more likely to get rosacea than men, men who suffer from it tend to have more severe cases than women.
Treatment for Rosacea and Rhinophyma
Since there is no known cure for rosacea, treatment is aimed at identifying triggers for the condition and reducing flare-ups. Alcohol, spicy foods, hot beverages, sun exposure, and heat are all potential triggers, as is stress. Natural anti-inflammatory medications containing shark cartilage may also be helpful. Some medications, including antibiotics (either oral or topical), steroids and retinols, may also be useful.
Intense pulsed light therapy may be helpful to non-invasively reduce redness and shrink blood vessels. If your rosacea or rhinophyma results in an enlarged nose, ablastive laser treatment and dermabrasion may help resurface the skin, tame the redness, and even help shrink the nose. In extreme cases, surgical rhinoplasty can be considered.