Young girl before and after rosacea treatment

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a condition with chronic redness of the facial skin, easy flushing, and sometimes acne-like breakouts. It can happen to men or women and is a long-term problem that cannot be cured. However rosacea can be controlled with treatment. Individuals of all ethnicities can have rosacea but persons with lighter skin are more likely to be affected. Rosacea has several forms that affect the skin differently.

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What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a condition with chronic redness of the facial skin, easy flushing, and sometimes acne-like breakouts. It can happen to men or women and is a long-term problem that cannot be cured. However rosacea can be controlled with treatment. Individuals of all ethnicities can have rosacea, but persons with lighter skin are more likely to be affected. Rosacea has several forms that affect the skin differently. 

Types of rosacea with signs and symptoms

  • Acne rosacea is common and usually begins in middle age. There may be breakouts, pimples and severe redness with flushing
  • Vascular rosacea leads to enlarged small blood vessels in the facial skin that may appear broken (telangiectasias)
  • Ocular rosacea affects the eyes, leading to dryness, redness of the eyes and chalazia (swelling due to inflammation affecting glands at the base of the eyelashes)
  • Rhinophyma is a severe form of rosacea that causes persistent and visible thickening of the skin, especially around the nose. Pores are often enlarged and the skin may be oily

     

    Causes

    The cause of rosacea is unknown. Some persons with rosacea symptoms that are triggered by environmental exposure can have excessive production of chemicals in the skin causing inflammation. This tendency of the skin to overreact to its environment may be inherited, so rosacea may run in families

How do we diagnose rosacea?

The presence of either of these signs is diagnostic of rosacea

Persistent Redness

Persistent facial redness is the most common individual sign of rosacea and may resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.

Skin Thickening

The skin may thicken and enlarge, most commonly on the nose (known as rhinophyma). This condition is less common but can lead to facial disfigurement and inadequate nasal airflow if severe.

Flushing

Many people with rosacea have a history of frequent blushing or flushing. This facial redness may be accompanied by a sense of heat, warmth or intermittent burning and is often an early feature of the disorder.

Bumps and Pimples

Small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples may often develop. While these may resemble acne, blackheads are absent and burning or stinging may occur.

Visible Blood Vessels

In many people with rosacea, prominent and visible small blood vessels called telangiectasia occur on the cheeks, nasal bridge, and other areas of the face.

Eye Irritation

In many rosacea patients, the eyes may be irritated and appear watery or bloodshot, a condition commonly known as ocular rosacea. The eyelids also may become red and swollen, and styes are common. Crusts and scale may accumulate around the eyelids or eyelashes, and patients may notice visible blood vessels around the lid margins. Severe cases can result in corneal damage and loss of visual acuity.

Swelling

Facial swelling, known as edema, may accompany other signs of rosacea or occur independently. Raised red patches, known as plaques, may develop without changes in the surrounding skin.

Dryness

The central facial skin may be rough, and appear scaly despite some patients complaining of oily skin.

How do we prevent rosacea flair ups?
  • Avoid alcohol, hot beverages, spicy foods, or other items that trigger your facial flushing
  • Wear sunscreen daily
  • Avoid extremes of temperature
  • Wash your face with lukewarm water, not hot water
  • Apply antibiotic lotion or cream (topical treatments, applied to the skin) that may be prescribed by your doctor, or take oral antibiotics that your doctor may also prescribe for acne-like breakouts
  • Seek mental health care if you have anxiety or depression related to your rosacea
Additional Information and Resources on rosacea

For more information