Rosacea

Pronounced: rose-AY-sha

Definition

Rosacea is a skin problem that causes flushing and redness of the face. It can also cause a rash or small red sores that look like acne.

Ocular rosacea affects the eyes. It makes them red and irritated.

Rosacea Rash

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Causes

The cause not known.

Rosacea symptoms may be set off by:

  • Sunny, cold, or windy weather
  • Stress
  • Hot baths or showers
  • Working out
  • Alcohol
  • Hot or spicy foods
  • Caffeine
  • Rubbing, scrubbing, or massaging the face

Risk Factors

Rosacea often starts in people over 30 years of age. It is more common in people with fair skin who are of European descent.

Other things that may increase the risk are:

  • Sun exposure
  • Long-term use of topical steroids

Symptoms

Facial flushing and redness are the most common symptom. Other may be:

  • 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 eyesight

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a doctor who treats skin problems.

Treatment

There is no cure. Treatment will help to manage symptoms. Treatment choices are:

Skin Care

The first step is to identify triggers. They can vary from person to person. Avoiding triggers can stop symptoms.

Keeping skin healthy will also help. Basic skin care includes:

  • Sun protection with sunscreen with SPF of 30 or greater
  • Washing with mild cleanser
  • Letting the face fully dry before using lotion or makeup
  • Working out in a cool setting

Medicine

Medicine may help to calm symptoms that do appear. Choices are:

  • Antibiotics or anti-parasitics pills or lotions
  • Medicated creams or gels—to help manage acne
  • Medicated creams or gels—to help shrink blood vessels near surface of skin and decrease redness
  • Eye drops—to increase tear production (ocular rosacea)
  • Acne pills—for severe rosacea

Surgery

Surgery may help if other treatment has not worked. It can help to decrease redness and manage enlarged blood vessels. Options include:

  • Intense pulsed light therapy
  • Laser therapy

Prevention

There are no steps to prevent rosacea.

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:

Gallo RL, Granstein RD, Kang S, et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018 Jan;78(1):148-155
Rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/rosacea. Accessed September 25, 2018.
Rosacea. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116224/Rosacea . Updated September 24, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.
Rosacea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/rosacea. Updated August 27, 2018. Accessed September 25, 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 September 25, 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: 8/15/2019

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