What is rosacea?
Rosacea (say “roh-ZAY-shuh”) is a very common skin disease that affects people over the age of 30. It causes redness on your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. Some people get little bumps and pimples on the red parts of their faces. Rosacea can also cause burning and soreness in your eyes.
Some people say that having rosacea keeps them from feeling confident at work or in social situations. If your rosacea bothers you or has gotten worse, talk to your doctor. Getting treatment can help your skin look and feel better. And it may keep your rosacea from getting worse.
What causes rosacea?
Experts are not sure what causes rosacea. They know that something irritates the skin, but rosacea doesn't seem to be an infection caused by bacteria. It tends to affect people who have fair skin or blush easily, and it seems to run in families.
The pattern of redness on a person's face makes it easy for a doctor to diagnose rosacea. And most of the time medical tests are not needed or used.
Rosacea is not caused by alcohol abuse, as people thought in the past. But in people who have rosacea, drinking alcohol may cause symptoms to get worse (flare).
Rosacea often flares when something causes the blood vessels in the face to expand, which causes redness. Things that cause a flare-up are called triggers. Common triggers are exercise, sun and wind exposure, hot weather, stress, spicy foods, alcohol, and hot baths. Swings in temperature from hot to cold or cold to hot can also cause a flare-up of rosacea.
What are the symptoms?
People with rosacea may have:
- A flushed, red face with sensitive, dry skin that may burn or sting.
- Small bumps and pimples or acne-like breakouts.
- Skin that gets coarser and thicker, with a bumpy texture.
- Dry, red, irritated eyes.
In rare cases, rosacea that is not treated may cause permanent effects, such as thickening of the skin on your face or loss of vision. It may cause knobby bumps on the nose, called rhinophyma (say "ry-no-FY-muh"). Over time, it can give the nose a swollen, waxy look. But most cases of rosacea don't progress this far.
How is it treated?
Doctors can prescribe medicines and other treatments for rosacea. There is no cure, but with treatment, most people can control their symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse.
- Redness and breakouts can be treated with:
- Pills, such as low-dose antibiotics like doxycycline.
- Skin creams that contain medicine, such as azelaic acid or metronizadole.
- Redness from tiny blood vessels can be treated with lasers and another light treatment called intense pulsed light (IPL).
- Dry, sensitive skin can be protected with products for sensitive skin, such as moisturizers and sunscreen.
- Dry, red, and irritated eyes can be treated with artificial tears or prescription eyedrops that contain a medicine such as cyclosporine.
- Thickened or bumpy skin on the nose or face can be treated with cosmetic surgery.
How can you prevent rosacea flare-ups?
There are some things you can do to reduce symptoms and keep rosacea from getting worse.
- Get any bothersome symptoms under control. A dermatologist can prescribe treatments to reduce redness and any breakouts.
- Find your triggers. One of the most important things is to learn what triggers your flare-ups, and then avoid them. It can help to keep a diary (What is a PDF document?) of what you were eating, drinking, and doing on days that the rosacea appeared. Take the diary to your next doctor visit, and discuss what you can do to help control the disease.
- Protect your face. Stay out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm. When you are outdoors, protect your face by wearing a wide-brimmed hat or visor. Use a sunscreen that is rated SPF 15 or higher every day. If your skin is dry, find a moisturizer with sunscreen.
- Be gentle with your skin. Use skin care products for sensitive skin, and avoid any products that scratch or irritate your skin. Try not to rub or scrub your skin.
- Take care of your eyes. Gently wash your eyelids with a product made for the eyes. Apply a warm, wet cloth several times a day. Use artificial tears if your eyes feel dry. Or talk to your doctor about medicine you can put into your eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about rosacea:
Living with rosacea:
Other Places To Get Help
|American Academy of Dermatology|
|P.O. Box 4014|
|Schaumburg, IL 60168|
|Phone:||1-866-503-SKIN (1-866-503-7546) toll-free|
The American Academy of Dermatology provides information about the care of skin, hair, and nails. You can find a dermatologist in your area by calling 1-888-462-DERM (1-888-462-3376).
|National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), National Institutes of Health|
|1 AMS Circle|
|Bethesda, MD 20892-3675|
|Phone:||1-877-22-NIAMS (1-877-226-4267) toll-free|
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a governmental institute that serves the public and health professionals by providing information, locating other information sources, and participating in a national federal database of health information. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases and supports the training of scientists to carry out this research.
The NIAMS Web site provides health information referrals to the NIAMS Clearinghouse, which has information packages about diseases.
|National Rosacea Society|
|800 South Northwest Highway|
|Barrington, IL 60010|
The National Rosacea Society provides information about this condition to the public and physicians. The society also publishes a newsletter. Call the toll-free telephone number listed above to request materials and services.
Other Works Consulted
- Berth-Jones J (2010). Rosacea. In MG Lebwohl et al., eds., Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies, 3rd ed., pp. 669–676. Edinburgh: Saunders Elsevier.
- Habif TP (2010). Rosacea (Acne rosacea) section of Acne, rosacea, and related disorders. In Clinical Dermatology, A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy, 5th ed., pp. 256–259. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
- Wilkin J, et al. (2002). Standard classification of rosacea: Report of the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee on the Classification and Staging of Rosacea. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 46(4): 584–587.
- Wolff K, Johnson RA (2009). Rosacea. In Fitzpatrick’s Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology, 6th ed., pp. 9–13. New York: McGraw-Hill.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology|
|Last Revised||June 25, 2011|
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