A widespread facial skin disorder might be a signal for other health problems. New studies are now revealing possible associations between rosacea and a growing number of potentially life-threatening systemic illnesses such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke and even brain and thyroid cancers.

Genetics have long been thought to play a role in the development of rosacea, while a recent study found that genetics and environmental factors, such as sun exposure, may also contribute to the disorder. The good news is that rosacea can be effectively controlled with medical therapy and lifestyle changes.

Rosacea is a common but poorly understood disorder of the facial skin estimated to affect more than 16 million Americans. Symptoms may include: redness, bumps and pimples, and in severe cases the nose may become enlarged from excess tissue. In some people the eyes are also affected, feeling irritated and appearing watery or bloodshot.

In addition to avoiding environmental and emotional trigger factors such as sun exposure and stress, the best bet for those who may have rosacea is to visit a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment. Physicians often recommend the following therapies:

1. Prescription treatment

Prescriptions are available for relief of persistent facial redness, which may also be reduced with lasers or intense pulsed light therapy.

2. Oral and topical therapy

This may be prescribed by doctors to bring rosacea's bumps and pimples under immediate control, followed by long-term use of a rosacea therapy to maintain remission. Topical therapy or a controlled-release, subantimicrobial anti-inflammatory dose of oral antibiotic may be used.

3. Surgical options

These are available for skin thickening; including cryosurgery, radiofrequency ablation and a surgical laser.

4. Artificial tears and oral antibiotics

Products like these may help treat affected eyes, as well as daily cleansing of the eyelashes. You should see an ophthalmologist for more severe cases.