Rosacea is a skin disorder. It causes chronic redness of the face. Rosacea usually affects the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose. The ears, chest, and back may also be affected. More than half of people with rosacea also have mild eye symptoms. This may include redness, burning, and watering. This is known as ocular rosacea.
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The cause of rosacea is unknown. Several theories exist.
Factors that can cause flushing or blushing may trigger flare-ups in people with rosacea.
These factors include: Very hot or spicy foodsCaffeineAlcoholSun exposureExtreme temperatures (very hot or very cold)ExerciseEmotional stress or social embarrassmentRubbing, scrubbing, or massaging the faceIrritating cosmetics and other toiletries
Rosacea is more common in women, between 30 and 60 years old, and in people with fair skin.
Your risk of rosacea is increased if you have family members who also have rosacea.
The symptoms of rosacea vary from person to person. They include: Frequent flushing on the face and neckRedness and swelling on the faceSmall pink bumps and/or pimplesThin red lines showing the small blood vessels of the faceRedness, burning, dryness, and tearing of the eyesAn enlarged, bulbous red nose—less common, affecting men more than women
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your skin will also be examined. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders. This type of doctor is called a dermatologist. Do not try to diagnose or treat yourself. Certain over-the-counter medications could make your condition worse.
Rosacea generally can't be cured. It can be controlled. There are several ways to manage rosacea. Your doctor may recommend more than one, depending on your condition.
Prescription medications for rosacea include: Antibiotics applied to the skinOther topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, sulfa, or tretinoinAntibiotics taken by mouth
In more severe cases, medications may sometimes include: Oral isotretinoinIn rare, more severe cases, oral methotrexate, dapsone, primaquine, chloroquine, or prednisone
Topical cortisone is generally avoided on the face. It can make rosacea worse when used long term. However, it can be effective as a short-term treatment.
Treatment for redness or flushing may include: Clonidine in low dosesBeta blockers (certain types)
The following procedures minimize redness, enlarged blood vessels, and an enlarged nose: ElectrosurgeryLaser surgeryDermabrasion
Preventing rosacea can be difficult. If you have rosacea, there are several steps you can take to control the condition: Avoid things that may trigger flushing or blushing. This includes certain foods, alcohol, and exposure to the sun.Protect your skin from the sun. Use clothing, hats, or sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.Exercise in a cool environment to avoid overheating.
Avoid anything that irritates your skin:
Apply topical medications, moisturizers, and cosmetics gentlyUse cleansers, moisturizers, cosmetics, and other toiletries that are gentle and alcohol-free
Tanzi EL, Weinberg JM. The ocular manifestations of rosacea.
Crawford GH, Pelle MT, et al. Rosacea: I. Etiology, pathogenesis, and subtype classification.
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Rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/q---t/rosacea. Accessed January 22, 2015.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens. Accessed January 22, 2015.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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