Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels in your face. It may also produce small, red, pus-filled bumps. These signs and symptoms may flare up for a period of weeks to months and then diminish for a while. Rosacea can be mistaken for acne, an allergic reaction or other skin problems.
Rosacea can occur in anyone. But it most commonly affects middle-aged women who have fair skin. While there's no cure for rosacea, treatments can control and reduce the signs and symptoms. If you experience persistent redness of your face, see your doctor for a diagnosis and proper treatment.
Signs and symptoms of rosacea may include:
- Facial redness. Rosacea usually causes a persistent redness in the central part of your face. Small blood vessels on your nose and cheeks often swell and become visible.
- Swollen red bumps. Many people who have rosacea also develop pimples on their face that resemble acne. These bumps sometimes contain pus. Your skin may feel hot and tender.
- Eye problems. About half of the people who have rosacea also experience eye dryness, irritation and swollen, reddened eyelids. In some people, rosacea's eye symptoms precede the skin symptoms.
- Enlarged nose. Rarely, 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 redness of your face, see your doctor or a skin specialist (dermatologist) for a diagnosis and proper treatment.
The cause of rosacea is unknown, but it could be due to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. Rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene.
A number of factors can trigger or aggravate rosacea by increasing blood flow to the surface of your skin. Some of these factors include:
- Hot drinks and spicy foods
- Temperature extremes
- Sunlight or wind
- Drugs that dilate blood vessels, including some blood pressure medications
Anyone can develop rosacea. But you may be more likely to develop it if you:
- Are a woman
- Have fair skin, particularly if it has been damaged by the sun
- Are over age 30
- Have a family history of rosacea
In severe and rare cases, the oil glands (sebaceous glands) in your nose and sometimes your cheeks become enlarged, resulting in a buildup of tissue on and around your nose — a condition called rhinophyma (rie-no-FIE-muh). This complication is much more common in men and develops slowly over a period of years.