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How Sensitive Are You?

Becky Luigart-Stayner
Find out if your delicate skin shows signs of rosacea.

If you have extremely sensitive skin, acne that doesn't respond to standard treatments, or a complexion that often turns red or ruddy, you may have rosacea. Common symptoms include blushing very easily (it may look like you have a permanent sunburn); redness; burning or stinging skin and eyelids; visible blood vessels; acnelike bumps and pimples; and, in its most extreme form, an enlarged or swollen nose, says John Wolf, M.D., chairman of the Baylor College Department of Dermatology in Houston.

Rosacea may be hereditary and affects more than 14 million Americans, typically women over 30. Sufferers may have one or all of the symptoms, which can become more severe if left untreated. There is no cure for rosacea, Wolf says, but a dermatologist can prescribe oral or topical medications to control its symptoms. In some cases, dermatologists use laser surgery to eliminate visible blood vessels or reduce severe redness.

Sufferers should avoid sun damage (another reason to wear sunscreen daily), stress, and heat, the other common environmental triggers, according to Wolf. Certain foods (inlcuding spicy fare, tomatoes, cheese, chocolate, avocados, and bananas), alcohol, and overexertion also can exacerbate the problem. For more information, contact the National Rosacea Society at 888-662-5874 or