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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 exact cause is not known. It may be due to a problem with the immune system.

Rosacea may be triggered 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 raise the risk are:

  • Sun exposure
  • Long-term use of topical steroids

Symptoms

Facial flushing and redness are the most common symptoms. Others 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. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Treatment

There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:

  • Identifying and avoiding triggers
  • Practicing basic skin care, such as wearing sunscreen and washing with a mild cleanser
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Antibiotics
    • Creams or gels to help shrink blood vessels and decrease redness
    • Eye drops to increase tear production (ocular rosacea)
    • Acne pills to treat severe rosacea

People who are not helped by other methods may need laser therapy or light-based therapies. These can help to ease redness and manage enlarged blood vessels.

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

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

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Gallo RL, Granstein RD, 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 December 1, 2020.

Rosacea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/rosacea. Accessed December 1, 2020.

Rosacea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/rosacea. Accessed December 1, 2020.

Rosacea. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/rosacea. Accessed December 1, 2020.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD  Last Updated: 4/23/2021