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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a long-term skin condition that causes redness and 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.

What are the signs and symptoms of rosacea?

Your face will be red with bumps. The bumps are often red and look like pimples. Symptoms range from mild to severe. You may have periods of time with no symptoms. Triggers can cause your symptoms to flare. Some signs and symptoms will depend on the type of rosacea you have:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic is also called ETR. Your face may be red and swollen for long periods of time. 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 is also called PPR. The bumps on your skin may be filled with pus. Your skin may swell, burn, or sting.
  • Phymatous causes the skin on your nose, chin, forehead, cheeks, eyelids, or ears to thicken. Your nose may also look bumpy.
  • Ocular 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 blurred vision or pain in bright light.

What can trigger rosacea flares?

  • Oil-based cosmetics
  • High-impact exercise
  • Spicy foods, hot drinks, or drinks that contain alcohol
  • Stress
  • Sun exposure or very hot, cold, or windy weather

How is rosacea diagnosed?

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

  • Antibiotic medicines treat or prevent a bacterial infection. Antibiotics may also help decrease swelling, redness, and acne-like bumps. Antibiotics may be given as a pill or a cream to apply on your face.
  • Eye drops help keep your eyes moist if you have dryness from ocular rosacea.
    Steps 1 2 3 4
  • Procedures such as laser therapy or surgery may be needed. A laser removes tissue buildup and reduces redness and swelling. You may need surgery to remove thickened skin on your face.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I prevent rosacea flares?

Know your triggers and avoid them. Work with your healthcare provider to determine what your triggers are. You may need to do any of the following:

  • Avoid high-impact exercise. Walking is a good low-impact exercise. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Manage stress. Stress may trigger symptoms, or make them worse. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing. Talk to your doctor if you have a hard time managing stress.
  • Do not have foods and drinks that can cause flares. Examples include spicy foods, hot drinks, and 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.
  • Cover your face. Use a scarf to cover your face when you are outdoors on cold or windy days.
  • 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.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have new or increased blurred vision, or vision loss.

When should I call my doctor?

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

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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