Home Skin Health Guide Rosacea: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Rosacea: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention


Rosecea is a common and long lasting skin problem that causes redness and inflammation on the facial skin. It starts with redness on the nose and cheeks. It can affect other areas like chin and forehead too. More than 16 million people in the U.S are affected by this skin condition. People who are fair-skinned are prone to this condition, and it affects people between the age groups of 30-50. Most often people mistake this condition to be a sun burn. If treated on time properly, it can be cured completely.


The causes of the disease are not clearly known. Some of the suspected reasons include genetic factors, sun exposure, bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori, a mite found in hair follicles known as Demodex folliculorum, gastrointestinal disease and certain medications that cause the widening of the blood vessels. A hereditary component may also be involved.


There are four stages of the condition. The first stage has intermittent and flushing facial redness, the second stage consists of persistent redness on the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin, the third stage has small, red and pus colored lumps with tiny blood vessels that appear as thin and red lines. The fourth stage consists of skin thickening and bumps on the nose.

Some of the common symptoms are as follows:

1. Redness: The skin on the face looks like blush or sunburn. This is caused due to the excess flow of blood through the blood vessels in the skin. The vessels get enlarged to accommodate the flow and the redness becomes more obvious. The skin may become dry also.

2. Papules and pimples: Small, solid, red pimples appear on the face and may look like acne. Rosacea has also been nicknamed as adult acne due to the similarity. However, people who suffer from this skin condition do not have blackheads or whiteheads.

3. Red lines: The blood vessels on the face expand to handle the large amount of blood flow and finally begin to show through the skin. They appear as red and thin lines on the skin. In the beginning, they may not be seen due to the redness. But slowly when the redness fades, the red lines become more visible.

4. Nasal bumps: If the condition is not treated, it can create knobby and small bumps especially on the nose and makes it look swollen. This condition is usually found in men and is known as rhinophyma.

5. Eye irritation: People with this condition may develop dry and red eyes. Some people may also develop the symptoms severely in the eyes. If not treated properly, it can affect the vision too.


Based on the appearance of the skin and the history of blushing a doctor can usually make out the disease. However, if the disease is in the early stages, it can also be mistaken for sun burn, hot flashes, acne or allergy.


After looking at the symptoms and analyzing them the doctor will prescribe a treatment according to your condition. It can be one or more of the following.

Antibiotics: The most frequently prescribed treatment is Metronidazole cream or gel. It is a topical cream to be applied on the affected areas. There are various other creams also such as tetracycline and its derivatives like doxycycline. It is a drug that has to be taken orally twice a day. The medicines are sold under various brand names. You can see a lot of improvement with 1-2 months of using these.

Azelaic acid: This drug is approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration in 2003. The gel contains dicarboxylic acid for treating inflammatory pimples that appear due to mild-moderate rosacea.

Alpha antagonists and beta blockers: They may help to reduce the flushing by affecting the blood vessels. Nadolol and Propranolol are beta blockers while Clonidine is an antagonist. Beta blockers are generally used for treating heart disease and high blood pressure. Clonidine is used for treating high blood pressure and hot flashes during menopause.

Estrogen: If rosacea is provoked by hot flashes during menopause, the female hormone in small doses is used for controlling the symptoms of menopause. When the hot flashes do not occur the hormone should be discontinued.

Laser treatment: Dilated blood vessels or excess nose tissue can be treated using laser treatment.

Surgical procedure: Excess nose tissue can also be removed by using dermabrasion or surgical shave techniques.


There are no special ways to prevent the condition. However, the symptoms can be greatly reduced by recognizing the common triggers like alcohol, hot drinks, spicy foods, sunlight, stress, extreme cold or heat etc. Try to avoid the triggers if you are able to identify the causes. If you want to cleanse or moisturize your face, choose products that do not sting, burn or irritate when applied. Avoid using astringents, toners, exfoliating agents and scrubs. Use sun blockers and sunscreens regularly to protect your face from the sun.

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