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Rhinophyma: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Rhinophyma?

Rhinophyma is the term given to the discolouration and bulbousness of the nose caused by severe cases of rosacea. The word comes from the term ‘phymatous’ which means a thickening of the tissues and skin, and ‘rhino’ meaning ‘of the nose.’ It takes a number of years for the condition to develop and it almost exclusively occurs in men.

What causes Rhinophyma?

It is believed to be a direct symptom of rosacea, but nobody knows why it occurs. People with very fair, sensitive skin from an Irish or Eastern European racial heritage are more likely to develop rosacea. Rhinophyma is much more common in men, but it is still unclear exactly why this is.  

What are the symptoms of Rhinophyma?

  • Lumps and bumps on or around the nose
  • Red or purple skin on the nose that doesn’t go away
  • Thread veins
  • A swollen, bulbous nose
  • Thickening of the skin on the nose
  • Enlarged pores

How can I prevent Rhinophyma?

There is no known way to prevent or cure for the condition, but as it’s linked to rosacea, it may be beneficial to identify and avoid the things that trigger or aggravate your rosacea breakouts. Some common rosacea triggers include:

  • Certain foods such as spicy dishes and citrus fruit
  • Sun exposure
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Fragranced skin products
  • Harsh cleansers and soaps
  • Stress

Natural remedies

Some common natural remedies for soothing the symptoms of rosacea and Rhinophyma include:

Using only natural, gentle skin products and moisturisers

  • Turmeric (taken orally either as a supplement or in food)
  • Ginger (taken orally either as a supplement or in food)
  • Aloe vera gel (applied topically onto the affected area)
  • Manuka honey (applied topically onto the affected area)

Treatments for Rhinophyma

Rhinophyma is most commonly treated with surgery. There are four main types of surgical procedure used to treat the condition:

  • Dermabrasion: this involves using an abrasive, rotating tool to strip off layers of the skin (not to be confused with microdermabrasion, which is gentler and removes mainly dead skin cells on the surface.)
  • Laser resurfacing: a specialised laser is used to remove the deformed part of the skin.
  • Cryosurgery: liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and remove the affected area of skin.
  • Surgical removal of affected skin with a scalpel.

FAQs about Rhinophyma

Is Rhinophyma hereditary?

No clear genetic link has been made with Rhinophyma.

Is Rhinophyma painful?

The condition is not usually painful or itchy, however, it can cause embarrassment and impact the sufferer’s self-esteem. In some very severe cases of nasal disfigurement, it can also affect the individual's ability to breathe.

Is Rhinophyma curable?

There is no known cure, however its symptoms can be alleviated with treatment (see ‘Treatments for Rhinophyma’ above.)

Will it come back after treatment?

Some cases do reoccur, but it usually takes a number of years. If it does return, you should be able to have the treatment again.

Is Rhinophyma contagious?

No.

Related conditions:

Rosacea

Redness

Thread veins

Related treatments:

Laser resurfacing

CO2RE

Fraxel

Rosacea treatment

Facial thread vein treatment

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