Rhinophyma is a relatively uncommon condition characterized by an enlarged, red, bulb-shaped nose. Although the exact cause of rhinophyma is unknown, it is considered to be a severe form of rosacea, a common, chronic inflammatory skin condition that results in irregular redness or flushing of the face, particularly in the cheeks or nasal areas.
As a patient’s rosacea progresses the symptoms of rhinophyma will usually get worse and may include the following changes in the appearance of the nose:
- Gradual swelling and the development of a bulbous shape
- Numerous oil glands
- Enlarged skin pores
- Reddish skin tone
- Thickening of the outer layers of skin
- Waxy, rough, yellowish appearance
The symptoms of rhinophyma may occur in cycles, but the condition will become worse if left untreated. Cosmetic plastic surgery, similar to a rhinoplasty procedure, is the best way to correct this disorder, and usually includes removal of the excess tissue to create a more proportional nasal structure.
In the past, the red, bulbous nose caused by rhinophyma was believed to be a common symptom of long term alcohol abuse, but recent research has since disproven that connection. Although the underlying cause of rhinophyma is still unknown, studies have found that patients are at a higher risk if they have fair skin, are of Irish, English, Scottish, Scandinavian or Eastern European descent, or have a family history of rosacea. Rhinophyma occurs more often in men than in women, and the condition gradually develops after the onset of the initial stages of rosacea, which typically occur between the ages of 25 and 50.