Rosacea

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a skin problem that causes redness, pimples, and lumps on the nose and face. Rosacea is not the same as acne.

What is the cause?

The exact cause of rosacea is not known. It may be caused by overactive blood vessels that increase blood flow to your skin.

You are more likely to get rosacea if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Have fair skin
  • Are between the ages of 30 and 50
  • Have a family history of rosacea

There are several things that can make rosacea worse, including:

  • Sunlight, hot baths, high temperatures, or exercise
  • Stress
  • Drinking alcohol (Alcohol is not a cause, but can make symptoms worse.)
  • Hot or spicy foods and beverages

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Redness and bumps on your face
  • A red nose, sometimes with blood vessels seen just under the skin

In women, redness and blood vessels may be seen only on the cheeks and chin.

Rarely, the skin on your nose may get lumpy and look swollen. The nose can get bigger, and its surface may thicken with scar tissue.

Sometimes rosacea causes red and swollen eyelids. Rarely, it may affect your eyes and make them burn or feel gritty.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine your skin.

How is it treated?

Rosacea can’t be cured, but treatment can control your symptoms and help prevent damage to your skin. Treatments may include

  • Prescription medicines that you put on the skin, such as acne medicines or steroid creams.
  • Prescription medicines that you take by mouth, such as antibiotics or isotretinoin. Isotretinoin can cause severe birth defects if a woman gets pregnant while she is taking the drug or even if she has taken it 1 or 2 months before getting pregnant. You must tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, have been trying to get pregnant, or are thinking about getting pregnant BEFORE taking any acne medicine, especially isotretinoin.

If you have severe rosacea, a skin specialist may:

  • Use laser surgery to remove the top layer of skin and get rid of enlarged blood vessels
  • Use light therapy and medicine applied to your skin to remove the top layer of skin

If rosacea is affecting your eyes, your provider may refer you to an eye specialist.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. In addition:

  • Avoid rubbing or massaging your face if it seems to irritate the skin.
  • Overexposure to sunlight can worsen the effects of rosacea. Stay out of the sun during the times of most intense rays, usually 10 AM to 4 PM. Use sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater. Put more on as often as directed on the label. Wear a hat that protects your face.
  • Avoid any foods or drinks, including alcohol, that seem to make the rosacea worse.
  • Both men and women with rosacea use makeup to cover the skin changes. Use cosmetics that are made for sensitive skin.
  • Avoid getting hairspray, mousse, and other irritating cosmetics on your face.

Ask your provider:

  • If there are activities you should avoid
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

You can get more information from:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-10
Last reviewed: 2014-10-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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