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Rhinophyma

Definition

Rhinophyma is a large, bulb-shaped, red-colored (ruddy) nose.

Alternative Names

Bulbous nose; Nose - bulbous; Phymatous rosacea

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Rhinophyma was once thought to be caused by heavy alcohol consumption, but this is not the case. Rhinophyma occurs equally in those who do not drink at all and those who drink large quantities of alcohol. The condition is much more common in men than in women.

The cause of rhinophyma is unknown, though it is thought to be a severe form of rosacea. It is a relatively rare disorder.

Symptoms

Symptoms involve an abnormal appearance of the nose:

  • Bulb-like (bulbous) shape
  • Many oil glands
  • May be reddish
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Waxy, yellow surface

Signs and tests

Rhinophyma may usually be diagnosed without any testing. A skin biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis in unusual cases.

Treatment

Surgery to reshape the nose is the best known treatment for rhinophyma. Surgery may be done with a laser, scalpel, or a rotating brush (dermabrasion). There have been reports of good results from using certain acne medications.

Expectations (prognosis)

Rhinophyma can be corrected with surgery, but the condition may return.

Complications

The change in appearance can cause emotional distress.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of rhinophyma and would like to discuss treatment.

References

Lucas JL, Tomecki KJ. Acne and rosacea. In: Carey WD, ed. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine 2010. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010.

Habif TP. Acne, rosacea, and related disorders. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 7.

Brodsky J. Management of benign skin lesions commonly affecting the face: actinic keratosis, seborrheic keratosis, and rosacea. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 Aug;17(4):315-20.


Review Date: 10/3/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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