|An Old Man and His Grandson, by Domenico Ghirlandaio|
Rhinophyma is a condition causing development of a large, bulbous nose associated with granulomatous infiltration, commonly due to untreated rosacea. The condition is most common in older white males.
Colloquial terms for the rhinophyma include "whiskey nose", "gin blossom", "toros nose", and "potato nose".
Signs and symptoms
Rhinophyma is characterised by prominent pores and a fibrous thickening of the nose, sometimes with papules. It is associated with the common skin condition rosacea and it can be classified clinically into 5 grades of increasing severity.
Tissue thickening may come to cause airway obstruction and impede breathing.
Although rhinophyma has been commonly presumed to be linked to alcoholism, a direct causal relationship between the condition and excessive alcohol consumption has not been substantiated. Alcohol may cause increased flushing in those affected.
Rhinophyma develops in some individuals after long-standing rosacea that has progressed to acne rosacea.
Rosacea usually commences in people between the age of 20-30 years. Rosacea begins with facial flushing (pre-rosacea). The nasal skin then thickens and hypervascularises, leading to persistent erythema (vascular rosacea). Papules and pustules then develop, marking the beginning of acne (inflammatory) rosacea. A subset of those affected by acne rosacea go on to develop rhinophyma. Chronic infection is common as the thickened sebaceous fluid traps bacteria.
Rhinophyma is characterised by hypertrophy of nasal skin, with hyperplasia and fibrosis of the sebaceous glands and connective tissue. The nasal tip and alae are preferentially affected by the hypertrophy, and the lower portion of the nose is predominately affected. The underlying bony structure is not affected.
The exact pathophysiological mechanism underlying the development of rosacea and rhinophyma is unknown, but a combination of neurovascular and immune disturbance is thought to be involved, causing inflammation, fibrosis, and vascularisation.
Even though females are more often affected by acne rosacea, they seldom go on to develop rhinophyma. It is thought that androgenic factors predispose men to develop rhynophyma.
Rhinophyma is diagnosed clinically based on presentation (erythema, telangiectasias, and nasal skin hypertrophy). Diagnosis is confirmed by histology.
Treatment consists of paring down the bulk of the tissue with a sharp instrument or carbon dioxide laser and allowing the area to re-epithelialise. Sometimes, the tissue is completely excised and the raw area skin-grafted.
Rhynophyma usually occurs in white men older than 50 years. Males are 5 to 30 times as likely to be affected as females. In the United States, people of predominant Asian and African ancestry are only rarely affected by the condition.
Colloquial names for the condition include "whiskey nose", "gin blossom", and "potato nose". The condition has often been presumed to be a result of alcoholism (even though it remains unclear whether alcohol actually contributes to the development of rhynophyma) which has led to stigmatisation of people with the condition. In film, villainous characters have been portrayed as having rhynophyma, notably the evil queen in the animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Among those people known to have had the disease was the American banker J.P. Morgan.
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