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Rosacea

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 17, 2023.

Overview

Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common skin condition that causes flushing or long-term redness on your face. It also may cause enlarged blood vessels and small, pus-filled bumps. Some symptoms may flare for weeks to months and then go away for a while.

Rosacea can be mistaken for acne, dermatitis or other skin problems.

There's no cure for rosacea. But you may be able to control it with medicine, gentle skin care and avoiding things that cause flare-ups.

Rosacea on white skin

Changes typical of rosacea on white skin are red cheeks, nose and central face, with small red bumps or bumps with pus in them.

Rosacea on brown skin

The flushing and redness of rosacea may be difficult to see on brown and Black skin. Watch for other symptoms of the condition.

Symptoms

Symptoms of rosacea include:

When to see a doctor

If you have ongoing symptoms of the face or eyes, see a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and treatment. Skin specialists also are called dermatologists.

Rhinophyma

Over time, rosacea can thicken the skin on the nose, causing it to look bigger. This condition is called rhinophyma. It occurs more often in men than in women.

Causes

The cause of rosacea is not known. It could be due to genetics, an overactive immune system or things in your daily life. Rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene, and you can't catch it from other people.

Flare-ups might be brought on by:

Risk factors

Anyone can develop rosacea. But you may be more likely to develop it if you:

Diagnosis

To determine whether you have rosacea, a doctor or other healthcare professional examines your skin and asks about your symptoms. You may have tests to rule out other conditions, such as psoriasis or lupus. Some symptoms of rosacea may be harder to see on brown and Black skin. These include spider veins and flushing. So it's important to pay attention to other symptoms, such as swelling, bumps, facial stinging and dry-looking skin.

If your symptoms involve your eyes, you may see an eye doctor, also called an ophthalmologist, for other tests.

Treatment

If your symptoms don't improve with the self-care tips below, talk with a member of your healthcare team about a prescription gel or cream. This kind of medicine may help ease symptoms. For more serious rosacea, you might need prescription pills. Laser treatment may be used to reduce flushing and enlarged blood vessels in the face.

How long you need treatment depends on the type of rosacea you have and how serious your symptoms are. Even if your skin calms with treatment, the symptoms often return.

Medicines

Several medicines are used to help control rosacea symptoms. The type of medicine you are prescribed depends on your symptoms. For example, some medicines or treatments work better for flushing, and some medicines work better for pimples and bumps. You may need to try one or more medicines to find a treatment that works for you.

Medicines for rosacea include:

Laser treatment

Laser treatment can help improve the look of enlarged blood vessels. It also can help the long-term redness of rosacea. And it often works better than a cream or a pill for this symptom. Because the laser targets visible veining, this method is most effective on skin that isn't tanned, brown or Black.

Talk with a member of your healthcare team about the risks and benefits of laser treatment. Common side effects include redness, bruising and mild swelling for a few days following the treatment. Rare side effects include blistering and scarring. Icing and gentle skin care help while you heal. On brown or Black skin, laser treatment might cause long-term or permanent changes to the color of the treated skin.

The full effect of the treatment might not be seen for weeks. Repeat treatments may be needed to keep the improved look of your skin.

Laser treatment for rosacea is sometimes considered a cosmetic procedure. Such procedures often aren't covered by insurance. However, nowadays some insurances do cover the procedure. Check with your insurance company directly to see if they cover laser treatment for rosacea.

Lifestyle and home remedies

These self-care tips may help you calm your skin and prevent flare-ups:

Alternative medicine

Gently massaging your face daily may help ease symptoms of rosacea. Using your fingers, make little circles starting on the center of the face and working to the ears. Do this for a few minutes.

If stress seems to make your symptoms worse, try stress management methods. Examples are deep breathing and meditating.

Coping and support

Rosacea can be distressing. You might feel embarrassed or anxious about how your face looks and become withdrawn or self-conscious. Or you may be upset by other people's reactions. It may help to talk with a counselor about these feelings. It also might help to find a rosacea support group, either in person or online. You may find comfort in connecting with others facing the same types of issues.

Preparing for an appointment

You're likely to start by seeing a member of your primary care team. Or you may be referred to a skin disease specialist, called a dermatologist. If your condition affects your eyes, you may be referred to an eye specialist, called an ophthalmologist.

It's a good idea to prepare for your appointment. Here's some information to help you.

What you can do

Preparing a list of questions helps you make the most of your appointment time. For rosacea, some basic questions are:

Ask any other questions that come up during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Prepare to answer questions like these:

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