Steroid rosacea is an adverse reaction to steroids that can occur in people forced to use them for extended periods of time. This condition most commonly appears in patients who use aggressive topical steroids on their face, although it can also show up in patients who take oral or inhalation steroids. In steroid rosacea, the skin turns red, bumpy, and irritated. This often happens very quickly and it can become unsightly.
Not all patients who use steroids will develop this reaction, but it can occur. A doctor may have concerns about this and other side effects associated with long term steroid use if a patient cannot successfully wean off steroids for the treatment of a skin condition. Patients who regularly use strong steroid medications should be alert to signs of skin itching, redness, and other signs of steroid rosacea. If they spot the condition quickly, it can be easier to treat.
Treatment requires withdrawing the steroids and using other medications like tetracycline to treat the rosacea. Abrupt cessation of steroid treatment can come with its own set of side effects, however. Patients will need to taper off the medication rather than stopping immediately, and may experience some residual skin irritation as they reduce the steroid dosage. The underlying condition that led to the need for steroids in the first place may flare up as the dosage goes down.
With treatment, the steroid rosacea should resolve. Irritated blood vessels may take weeks or months to fully recover, and the patient may notice some residual roughness and red skin even after most of the face returns to normal. If the patient still has noticeably rough, lumpy patches, a doctor may recommend laser therapy. The laser can smooth the skin and speed the healing process to give the patient's face a more even, normal appearance.
This form of dermatitis can be more common in patients with known sensitive skin issues. While in treatment for steroid rosacea, it is important to use appropriate moisturizers that will enrich and moisturize the skin without being heavy and oily. It may be necessary to use a prescription product to keep the skin soothed and smooth. Since skin reactions to moisturizers are not uncommon, patients may want to ask for samples before buying a skin care product or accepting a prescription. They can test the samples on sensitive skin areas like the inside of the elbow before applying them to the face.