PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Princess Diana, Mariah Carey, Bill Clinton, W.C. Fields — ever notice the redness or bumpiness in their skin? It’s called Rosacea, a collection of signs and symptoms that affects up to one in 10 Americans.
“People with rosacea always have persistent redness of the face,” says Dr. Brian Horvath, of Horvath Dermatology. “Some people have Telangiectasias, small blood vessels or red lines, a few people have flushing of the skin and lots of people have acne type of red bumps.”
It’s more common in fair-skinned, sun-sensitive women between 30 and 60 years of age.
Lisa Sullivan has it.
“Normally, my vacation pictures, I’m the only one with a red face,” she says. “So, definitely, a little bit self-conscious about the redness.
It started in her early 20s.
“Usually get a little bit of flushing, definitely in my nose and in my cheeks,” said Sullivan. “I just thought, ‘Oh, I just have rosy cheeks, but then I realized not everyone has that.’”
Why it happens, nobody knows, but there are some possibilities.
“Overactive immune system, sun damage, there’s even a small insect called Demodex. It’s a microscopic insect that lives along the hair follicles, sometimes causes rosacea,” said Dr. Horvath. “Their skin is just more sensitive. Creams or lotions that most people can tolerate with no problems, for people with rosacea, can sometimes cause redness and irritation.”
Traditional treatments have involved prescription gels and low-strength antibiotics for the acne bump type. Lisa tried this, along with makeup.
“You can only hide so much,” she said. “By the end of the day, definitely the makeup is not looking as good as the beginning of the day.”
“We really haven’t been able – until very recently – to treat general redness, which is the biggest complaint for people with rosacea,” says Dr. Horvath.
Now, there’s something new, it’s a cream that’s actually derived from eye drops used to treat glaucoma.
“I think they noticed that coincidentally some people using the glaucoma medication had improvement in the redness,” Dr. Horvath said, “and the drug company started doing some testing, and determined; yes, if you use this on the skin, it does help with the redness.”
Applied once a day, it shrinks blood vessels and reduces blood flow and flushing in the skin.
“Really quite amazing. Within 30 minutes you can really see quite a difference,” said Sullivan.
The effect lasts up to 12 hours, give or take.
“I notice at the end of eight, it’s starting to come back a little bit,” Sullivan added.
It does cost several hundred dollars per tube.
“At this time, it’s a brand new medication, the first of its class. It seems to be covered by most insurance companies,” Dr. Horvath said. “But most patients purchasing Mirvaso will have to have a higher co-pay than they would for other medications.”
Some other uses for the cream the FDA has not approved include, the redness that comes after a pimple, and the redness that comes after ringworm, a fungal infection.