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Pronounced: rose-AY-sha


Rosacea is a common, long-term skin disorder that causes flushing and redness of the face. Rosacea can also affects the eyes making them red and irritated this is called ocular rosacea.

Rosacea symptoms are commonly triggered by:

  • Very hot or spicy foods
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sun exposure
  • Extreme temperatures (very hot or very cold)
  • Exercise
  • Emotional stress or social embarrassment
  • Rubbing, scrubbing, or massaging the face
  • Irritating cosmetics and other toiletries

Rosacea Rash

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Causes    TOP

The cause of rosacea is unknown. There may be a genetic link for some.

Risk Factors    TOP

Rosacea is more common in women between 30 and 50 years old, people of European descent, and people with fair skin.

Other factors that may increase your risk include:

  • Having a family member with rosacea
  • Long-term use of steroids applied to the skin
  • A bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine

Symptoms    TOP

The hallmark symptoms of rosacea are facial flushing and redness. Other symptoms may occur that vary from person to person, such as:

  • Symptoms of the face, ears, chest, and back:
    • Broken blood vessels
    • Swelling
    • Stinging and burning skin
    • Dry, oily, or rough skin
    • Acne
    • Raised patches of skin
    • Thickened skin (rare)
  • Symptoms in the eyes:
    • Redness and tearing
    • Burning, itching, and dryness
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Blurred vision

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done which includes examination of your skin. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders. Certain over-the-counter medications could make your condition worse.

Treatment    TOP

There is no cure for rosacea. Treatment is focused on reducing symptoms and is based on your specific needs. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include:

Skin Care

Decreasing irritation and triggers is important to managing symptoms. The following may be helpful:

  • Identify and avoid triggers
  • Wash with a mild soap and dry the skin gently
  • Use moisturizer
  • Wear sunscreen with an sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater
  • Avoid outdated cosmetics
  • Apply cosmetics with brushes instead of sponges
  • Wash affected eyelids with mild soap
  • Exercise in a cool environment


Prescription medications to treat rosacea symptoms include:

  • Antibiotics taken by mouth or applied to the skin
  • Topical medications that help to manage acne by killing bacteria and cleaning skin pores
  • Topical medication to help shrink blood vessels
  • Eye drops to increase tear production for those with ocular rosacea

Certain oral acne medications may also be recommended for severe rosacea.

Surgery    TOP

The following procedures may be used to minimize redness and enlarged blood vessels:

  • Intense pulsed light therapy
  • Laser therapy

Prevention    TOP

There is no known way to prevent rosacea.


American Academy of Dermatology
National Rosacea Society


Canadian Dermatology Association


Crawford GH, Pelle MT, et al. Rosacea: I. Etiology, pathogenesis, and subtype classification. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;51:327-341;quiz 342-344. Review.
Ocular rosacea. All About Vision website. Available at:
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Updated May 2014. Accessed January 24, 2017.
Pelle MT, Crawford GH, et al. Rosacea: II therapy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;51:499-512;quiz 513-514. Review.
Questions and answers about rosacea. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Updated April 2016. Accessed January 24, 2017.
Rosacea. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated December 10, 2015. Accessed January 24, 2017.
Rosacea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed January 24, 2017.
Rosacea: overview. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed January 24, 2017.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed January 24, 2017.
Tanzi EL, Weinberg JM. The ocular manifestations of rosacea. Cutis. 2001;68:112-114. Review.
van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, et al. Interventions for rosacea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 28;(4):CD003262. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003262.pub5. Available at:
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Accessed January 24, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 1/24/2017

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