Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that makes your face turn red. It may also cause swelling and skin sores that look like acne.
The cause is not known. You may be more likely to have this if you are
- Age 30-50
- A woman (men will often have more severe symptoms)
Rosacea involves swelling of the blood vessels just under the skin. It may be associated with other skin disorders (acne vulgaris, seborrhea) or eye disorders (blepharitis, keratitis).
- Redness of the face
- Blushing or flushing easily
- A lot of spider-like blood vessels (telangiectasia) of the face
- Red nose (called a bulbous nose)
- Acne-like skin sores that may ooze or crust
- Burning or stinging feeling in the face
- Irritated, bloodshot, watery eyes
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider can often diagnose rosacea by doing a physical exam and asking questions about your medical history.
There is no known cure for rosacea.
Your health care provider will help you identify the things that make your symptoms worse. These are called triggers. Triggers vary from person to person. Avoiding your triggers may help you prevent or reduce flare-ups.
Some things you can do to help ease or prevent symptoms include:
- Avoid sun exposure. Use sunscreen every day.
- Avoid a lot of activity in hot weather.
- Try to reduce stress. Try deep breathing, yoga, or other relaxation techniques.
- Limit spicy foods, alcohol, and hot beverages.
Other triggers may include wind, hot baths, cold weather, specific skin products, exercise, or other factors.
- Antibiotics taken by mouth (such as tetracycline, minocycline, or doxycycline) or applied to the skin (such as metronidazole) may control acne-like skin problems.
- Other medicines (isoretinol or Accutane), which are similar to vitamin A, are stronger drugs that your health care provider might consider.
- Rosacea is not acne and will not improve with over-the-counter acne treatment.
In very bad cases, laser surgery may help reduce the redness. Surgery to remove some swollen nose tissue may also improve your appearance.
Rosacea is a harmless condition, but it may cause you to be self-conscious or embarrassed. It cannot be cured, but may be controlled with treatment.
- Lasting changes in appearance (for example, a red, swollen nose)
- Lower self-esteem
Habif TP. Acne, rosacea, and related disorders. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 7.
Goldgar C, Keahey DJ, Houchins J. Treatment Options for Acne Rosacea. Am Fam Phys. 2009 Sep;80(5).
van Zuuren EJ, Kramer S, Carter B, Graber MA, Fedorowicz Z. Interventions for rosacea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(3);CD003262. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003262.pub4.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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