Overview

Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common skin condition that causes blushing or flushing and visible blood vessels in your face. It may also produce small, pus-filled bumps. These signs and symptoms may flare up for weeks to months and then go away for a while. Rosacea can be mistaken for acne, other skin problems or natural ruddiness.

Rosacea can affect anyone. But it's most common in middle-aged white women. There's no cure for rosacea, but treatment can control and reduce the signs and symptoms.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of rosacea include:

  • Facial blushing or flushing. Rosacea can cause a persistent blushing or flushing in the central part of your face. This sign of the condition may be difficult to see on brown and Black skin.
  • Visible veins. Small blood vessels of your nose and cheeks break and become visible (spider veins).
  • Swollen bumps. Many people with rosacea also develop pimples on their face that resemble acne. These bumps sometimes contain pus.
  • Burning sensation. The skin of the affected area may feel hot and tender.
  • Eye problems. Many people with rosacea also experience dry, irritated, swollen eyes and eyelids. This is known as ocular rosacea. In some people, the eye symptoms precede the skin symptoms.
  • Enlarged nose. Over time, rosacea can thicken the skin on the nose, causing the nose to appear bulbous (rhinophyma). This occurs more often in men than in women.

When to see a doctor

If you experience persistent symptoms of your face or eyes, see your doctor or a skin specialist (dermatologist) for a diagnosis and proper treatment.

Causes

The cause of rosacea is unknown, but it could be due to an overactive immune system, heredity, environmental factors or a combination of these. Rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene and it's not contagious.

Flare-ups might be triggered by:

  • Hot drinks and spicy foods
  • Red wine and other alcoholic beverages
  • Temperature extremes
  • Sun or wind
  • Emotions
  • Exercise
  • Drugs that dilate blood vessels, including some blood pressure medications
  • Some cosmetic, skin or hair care products

Risk factors

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

  • Are female
  • Have skin that burns easily in the sun
  • Are over age 30
  • Smoke
  • Have a family history of rosacea

Sept. 22, 2021
  1. Kang S, et al., eds. Rosacea. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology. 9th ed. McGraw-Hill; 2019. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  2. Habif TP. Acne, rosacea, and related disorders. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 19, 2019.
  3. Dahl MV. Rosacea: Pathogenesis, clinical features and diagnosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  4. Ferri FF. Rosacea. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2019. Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  5. Maier LE. Management of rosacea. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  6. AskMayoExpert. Rosacea. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019.
  7. van Zuuren EJ, et al. Interventions for rosacea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/. Accessed June 14, 2019.
  8. Aldrich N, et al. Genetic vs environmental factors that correlate with rosacea: A cohort-based survey of twins. JAMA Dermatology. 2015;151:1213.
  9. Soolantra (prescribing information). Galderma Laboratories. 2018. https://www.galderma.com/us/sites/g/files/jcdfhc341/files/2019-01/Soolantra_Cream_PI.pdf. Accessed Aug. 22, 2019.
  10. Gallo RL, et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Journal of the Academy of Dermatology. 2017;78:148.
  11. Briggs JK. Facial skin problems. In: Triage Protocols for Aging Adults. Wolters Kluwer; 2019.
  12. Li S, et al. Association of caffeine intake and caffeinated coffee consumption with risk of incident rosacea in women. JAMA Dermatology. 2018;15:1394.
  13. Colloidal silver. Natural Medicines. www.naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed July 10, 2019.
  14. Emu oil. Natural Medicines. https://www.naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed July 10, 2019.
  15. Laurelwood. Natural Medicines. https://www.naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed July 10, 2019.
  16. Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Aug. 7, 2019.
  17. Rosacea resource center. American Academy of Dermatology. aad.org/public/diseases/rosacea. Accessed May 26, 2021.
  18. Kelly AP, et al., eds. Laser treatment. In: Taylor and Kelly's Dermatology for Skin of Color. 2nd ed. McGraw Hill; 2016. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Aug. 3, 2021.