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Rosacea is a common skin condition.

Rosacea is a common skin condition.
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3-minute read

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes redness, flushing, and sometimes pimples and pustules on the face.

It’s not the same as acne, but it can make you feel embarrassed or lose confidence, particularly if it is left untreated.

Rosacea isn’t contagious but there is some evidence that it may be hereditary. There’s no cure for rosacea, but there are treatments available that can help control it.

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

You may have rosacea if you have:

  • frequent blushing, flushing or redness on your cheek, nose, chin or forehead
  • persistent redness that looks similar to a sunburn that does not go away
  • small visible blood vessels on the face
  • bumps or pimples on the face that might sting or burn (most often on the cheeks, chin and nose)
  • red or irritated eyes or swollen eyelids
Illustration showing different stages of rosacea.
Facial redness is the most common sign of rosacea. The redness can become more persistent over time as shown in the illustration.

Over time, the redness may last longer.

You may also notice that the skin becomes thicker, especially around the nose, and the nose may become swollen.

In some people rosacea can affect the eyes. This can cause red, sore or gritty eyes or eye margins, which can lead to conjunctivitis and swollen eyelids. See an eye specialist if your eyes are being affected, so treatment can be given to prevent damage.

What can trigger rosacea?

Many people with rosacea find that certain factors can trigger their symptoms, such as sun exposure, stress, hot weather, alcohol, hot, spicy foods, exercise, hot baths, or certain medicines or skin care products.

You may try keeping a diary to help identify what triggers your symptoms. Then you’ll know what to try to avoid.

How is rosacea treated?

While there’s no cure for rosacea, there are several treatments your doctor or skin specialist (dermatologist) may recommend to help control the symptoms.

Common treatments include creams or gels containing antibiotics, azelaic acid, brimonidine or Ivermectin to put on the skin, and a range of oral antibiotics. Laser treatment may be suggested to treat redness or visible blood vessels.

If you have eye symptoms, you may need to see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).

Surgery or laser therapy may be recommended to treat a swollen nose.

Your doctor will probably suggest that you use non-irritating skin-care products, wash your face gently and use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more to minimise skin irritation. You should only use oil-free products on your face, never use steroid creams, and try to keep your face cool to reduce flushing.

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Last reviewed: January 2021

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