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What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a long-term (chronic) skin disease that causes facial redness. Rosacea appears mainly in adults. Light-skinned people who tend to flush are most often affected. It may be made worse by the following:

  • Sun exposure

  • Heat

  • Eating spicy foods

  • Drinking alcohol

  • Getting embarrassed

Rosacea is rarely a health risk. But the symptoms of this disease can be painful and hurt your self-image. If you have rosacea, know that treatment and self-care can help.

A disease with changing symptoms

No one knows what causes rosacea. Heredity, flushing, and the presence of mites or bacteria may play a role. Increased blood flow in the facial skin may be involved. So may the use of some medicines. Rosacea has 4 main types of symptoms that affect the skin. They are described below. Some people with rosacea also have problems with their eyes. Your eyelids may be red, swollen, or itchy. You may feel as if sand is in your eyes. From day to day, symptoms can come and go. They may get worse or improve. They can often be managed with proper treatment and self-care.

Symptoms of rosacea


The central region of the face often flushes. This includes the cheeks, chin, forehead, and nose. The color can range from pink to red. Flushing can often include a burning feeling in the skin, rather than itching. The flushing can come and go. Alcohol or hot drinks can make flushing worse. There are few good treatments for those who have only flushing as the main symptoms of their rosacea. So staying away from triggers is the key. 

Dilated blood vessels

Tiny enlarged (dilated) blood vessels (telangiectasias) may form a web-like pattern on 1 or more parts of the face.

Acne-like lesions

Acne-like lesions appear on the face. They are called papules, pustules, and nodules. And they tend to occur above the nose, on the cheeks, and on the chin. They may come and go. Facial redness and tiny dilated blood vessels tend to persist.

Enlargement of the nose

With severe rosacea, redness and swelling may enlarge the nose (rhinophyma) due to thickening of the skin. Thickened skin may also occur on the forehead, chin, cheeks, and ears. This occurs most often in men.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Michael Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2021
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