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What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a long-term skin condition that causes inflammation of your face. Rosacea usually affects the cheeks and chin. It may also affect the nose, forehead, and eyes. There is no known cause of rosacea. Healthcare providers believe the facial redness occurs when blood vessels in your face widen. Rosacea is more common in women, people with fair skin, and those aged 30 or older.

What are the signs and symptoms of rosacea?

Your face will be red with red bumps. The bumps often look like acne pimples. Symptoms range from mild to severe. You may have periods of time with no symptoms. When you have symptoms, this is called a flare. Some signs and symptoms will depend on the type of rosacea you have. The 4 types of rosacea are:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic: This is also called ETR. Your face may be red and swollen for long periods. Your skin may burn, itch, or sting more easily when you use creams or lotions on your face. Your skin may also be drier than with other types of rosacea.
  • Papulopustular: Your skin may swell, burn, or sting. The bumps on your skin may be filled with pus.
  • Phymatous: This type causes your skin on your nose, chin, forehead, cheeks, eyelids, or ears to thicken. Your nose may also look bumpy.
  • Ocular: This type of rosacea affects your eyes. You may have dry or watery, red eyes. Your eyes may burn, sting, or itch. You may have eyelid swelling or feel like you have something in your eye. You may also have blurry vision. Your eyes may hurt when you are in bright light.

What increases my risk for rosacea flares?

  • Heavy exercise
  • Hot drinks or drinks that contain alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Stress, sudden laughter, or embarrassment
  • Sun exposure
  • Very hot, cold, or windy weather

How is rosacea diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your signs and symptoms. He may know you have rosacea by looking at your skin. Your healthcare provider may also do blood tests to learn if another medical condition is the cause of your symptoms.

How is rosacea treated?

Rosacea has no cure. With treatment, your symptoms can be controlled. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the following treatments:

  • Antibiotic medicines: This medicine is given to treat or prevent infection. Antibiotics may also help decrease swelling, redness, and acne-like bumps. This medicine may be given as a pill or a cream to apply on your face.
  • Artificial tears: These help keep your eyes moist if you have dryness from ocular rosacea.
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  • Laser ablation: A laser removes tissue buildup and reduces redness and swelling.
  • Surgery: You may need surgery to remove thickened skin on your face.

How can I prevent a rosacea flare?

  • Avoid hot drinks or drinks that contain alcohol.
  • Avoid being in the sun for long periods of time. Use sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher every time you go outside. Wear a wide-brimmed hat while you are outdoors.
  • Avoid skin care products that have alcohol, menthol, or salt in them. Use fragrance-free products to wash your face. Be gentle when you wash your face to avoid irritation. Ask your healthcare provider which products are best to treat dry skin.
  • Clean your eyelids as directed. Your healthcare provider may suggest you put warm compresses on your eyes 2 times each day.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have new or worse eye redness or itching.
  • You feel depressed about the look of your skin.
  • You have questions about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have new or increased blurry vision, or you have vision loss.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Rosacea

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Symptoms and treatments

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