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Rosacea

Pronounced: rose-AY-sha

Definition

Rosacea is a common, long-term skin disorder that causes flushing and redness of the face. Rosacea can cause a rash or small red lesions that look similar to acne. Ocular rosacea affects the eyes making them red and irritated.

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. Other factors that may increase the chances of rosacea:

  • A family history of rosacea
  • Having fair skin
  • Being of European descent

Symptoms    TOP

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

  • Symptoms of the face, ears, chest, and back:
    • Broken blood vessels
    • Swelling
    • Stinging and burning skin
    • Dry, oily, or rough skin
    • Acne-like pimples
    • 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, including an examination of your skin. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders.

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. Treatment includes:

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 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  • Avoid outdated cosmetics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

Medications

Prescription medications to treat rosacea symptoms include:

  • Antibiotics or anti-parasitics 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 superficial blood vessels in the skin
  • 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 are no current guidelines to prevent rosacea because the cause is unknown.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
https://www.aad.org
National Rosacea Society
https://www.rosacea.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Dermatology Association
https://www.dermatology.ca

References:

Ocular rosacea. All About Vision website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 2017. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/rosacea. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Rosacea. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116224/Rosacea. Updated February 26, 2018. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Rosacea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/rosacea. Updated April 2014. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Rosacea. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/rosacea. Updated April 30, 2016. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed March 6, 2018.
van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Carter B, van der Linden MM, Charland L. Interventions for rosacea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(4):CD003262.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 3/6/2018

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