Pediatric Dermatology

Pediatric Rosacea

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Differential Diagnosis

Rosacea is rare in children, so other papulopustular disorders must be ruled out, including acne vulgaris, periorificial/perioral dermatitis, sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, steroid-induced rosacea, ataxia telangiectasia, and demodicosis.

Acne vulgaris commonly presents in older adolescents and teenagers with open and closed comedones, inflammatory papules, and pustules.2 Intense facial flushing and telangiectasia usually is not seen.

In perioral dermatitis, skin lesions often are clustered around the mouth, nose, and eyes. Typically there are no telangiectases or ocular complications.3 Facial flushing and telangiectases are uncommon, except in steroid-induced perioral dermatitis.2

The cutaneous findings of sarcoidosis include red-brown papules on the face and lips, and patients also may have ocular involvement such as uveitis and iritis.3 However, there are typically other systemic findings such as pulmonary symptoms, weight loss, fatigue, lethargy, fever, and erythema nodosum.2,3 Chest radiograph findings (eg, bilateral hilar lym-phadenopathy), ophthalmologic examination, and laboratory data (eg, elevated alkaline phosphate and/or elevated angiotensin-converting enzyme) can help confirm or rule out the diagnosis of sarcoidosis.2,3

Unlike systemic lupus erythematosus, patients with rosacea will have involvement of sun-protected areas of the skin. Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus typically report arthralgia and severe photosensitivity and will have elevated antinuclear antibody titers. Skin biopsies and immunofluorescence can help confirm the diagnosis.3 Importantly, some patients with rosacea will have a positive lupus band test.22,23

Steroid-induced rosacea typically occurs 2 weeks after discontinuing therapy with topical fluorinated glucocorticosteroids.24 Children present with monomorphic papules, pustules, and telangiectases4 on the eyelids and lateral face as opposed to the central face regions.24

Ataxia telangiectasia can present with telangiectases, skin atrophy, café au lait spots, and premature graying.25 A 15-year-old adolescent girl with ataxia telangiectasia presented with granulomatous acne rosacea that improved after 4 weeks of treatment with isotretinoin 0.5 mg/kg daily. The lesions cleared almost completely after 5 months.25

Demodicosis is a disorder of the pilosebaceous units caused by the human Demodex mite.26 It typically involves the periorificial regions in adults and the elderly population. Patients can present with fine, white-yellow, scaly changes of the sebaceous hair follicles, with minimal erythema and inflammation. Papules and pustules also can be present.26

Diagnosis and Histopathology

Because rosacea is rare in children, it is important to thoroughly evaluate other possible diagnoses. The diagnosis of pediatric rosacea is clinical and biopsies are rarely performed. Laboratory tests such as cultures generally are not useful.

Marks and Harcourt-Webster27 reviewed the biopsies of 108 adult patients with rosacea. The biopsies of patients with predominantly erythema and telangiectasia showed evidence of vascular dilatation with a perivascular infiltrate composed predominantly of lymphocytes and 39 specimens that were compared to controls showed more solar elastosis. Biopsies of papular rosacea contained inflammatory infiltrates in the upper and mid dermis composed primarily of lymphocytes and histiocytes. In some patients, neutrophils, plasma cells, and giant cells also were observed. Hair follicle abnormalities were present in 20% of the biopsies, with 19% showing evidence of the Demodex mite. Vascular dilatation also was common. Overall, common findings included lymphohistiocytic infiltrates around the blood vessels of the upper dermis, dilated vessels, edema, elastosis, and disorganization of connective tissue in the upper dermis.

Helm et al28 reviewed histopathologic patterns from 53 patients with granulomatous rosacea. Findings included a mixed lymphohistiocytic infiltrate (predominantly lymphocytic in 40% of patients and predominantly histiocytic with occasional giant cells in 34% of patients), epithelioid granulomas (11% of patients), and epithelioid granulomas with caseation necrosis (11% of patients).

The histopathology of rosacea fulminans is characterized by dense perivascular and periadnexal infiltrates composed of granulocytes, eosinophils, and epithelioid granulomas, as well as panniculitis.20

Treatment and Clinical Outcomes

Certain lifestyle recommendations are integral components of disease management, including avoidance of triggers such as extreme temperatures, hot drinks, spicy food, and topical agents that could be irritating (especially topical corticosteroids).29 Patients should be advised to use daily sunscreen containing physical blockers such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Teenagers should avoid the use of cosmetics and makeup, especially products containing sodium lauryl sulfate, menthol, and camphor. Daily use of emollients can help some patients.29

There are both topical and systemic therapies available for pediatric rosacea; however, most of the data are based on the use of these treatments in the adult population. Patients with mild to moderate disease often can be managed using topical agents. Metronidazole (0.75% cream, 1% gel, or 0.75% lotion) has been studied extensively in adult patients, and when used once daily for 12 weeks, it has been able to control moderate to severe disease.30,31 In one study conducted in adult patients, topical metronidazole was able to maintain remission in adults who had previously been treated with a combination of oral tetracycline and metronidazole gel.31 Sodium sulfacetamide 10%–sulfur 5% (cleanser or lotion) has been successful in adult patients and often is used in combination with other therapies such as topical metronidazole.32-34 Azelaic acid cream 20%,35 benzoyl peroxide (wash or gel),29 topical clindamycin,36 topical erythromycin,29,37 tacrolimus ointment 0.1%,38 and tretinoin cream also have been studied in adults.3,39 Several of these topical agents can cause irritation on application (eg, metronidazole, sulfur-based agents, azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, erythromycin, tretinoin).3


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