(Acne Rosacea)

Reviewed/Revised Feb 2023
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What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a skin disorder that makes your nose and the area around it red, swollen, and covered with tiny pimples and dilated blood vessels.

  • Rosacea is most common in people ages 30 to 50, especially people of Irish and Northern European descent

  • Rosacea sometimes looks like acne

  • Treatment includes antibiotics

  • Avoiding certain foods, alcohol, hot beverages, sunlight, extreme temperatures, wind, and cosmetics may help lessen symptoms

What causes rosacea?

Doctors don’t know what causes rosacea. People with fair skin may be more prone to it.

If you already have rosacea, your symptoms may be triggered by:

  • Spicy foods

  • Alcohol

  • Hot drinks

  • Sunscreen or make-up

  • Stress

  • Cold or hot weather, sunlight, or wind

  • Exercise or hot baths

  • Certain medicines

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

Rosacea affects only your face and scalp. It usually gets more severe over time (years or decades).

  • At first, the skin over your cheeks and nose flushes for longer than normal and may sting but is otherwise normal

  • If rosacea progresses, your skin appears red and swollen most of the time, with small blood vessels visible just below the surface

  • You may develop small pimples

  • In late-stage rosacea, skin around your nose thickens, making it look red and swollen

Rosacea can also affect your eyes. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling of your eyelids or eyes

  • Itching

  • Redness

  • Feeling like something is in your eye

How can doctors tell if I have rosacea?

Doctors can tell you have rosacea by looking at your face and scalp.

How do doctors treat rosacea?

Doctors treat rosacea with the following:

  • Antibiotic creams or pills similar to those used for acne

  • For visible blood vessels, lasers or electrocautery (electric current on your skin to treat visible blood vessels)

  • For thick nose skin, dermabrasion (a procedure to rub off extra skin) or surgery to remove extra skin

Doctors will also have you avoid things that trigger your rosacea.

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