WellSpan Home

Rosacea

Topic Overview

What is rosacea?

Rosacea (say "roh-ZAY-shuh") is a very common skin disease that affects people over the age of 30. It causes redness on your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. Some people get little bumps and pimples on the red parts of their faces. Rosacea can also cause burning and soreness in your eyes.

Some people say that having rosacea keeps them from feeling confident at work or in social situations. If your rosacea bothers you or has gotten worse, talk to your doctor. Getting treatment can help your skin look and feel better. And it may keep your rosacea from getting worse.

What causes rosacea?

Experts are not sure what causes rosacea. They know that something irritates the skin and affects the skin's immune response. It tends to affect people who have fair skin or blush easily, and it seems to run in families.

The pattern of redness on a person's face makes it easy for a doctor to diagnose rosacea. And most of the time medical tests are not needed or used.

Rosacea is not caused by alcohol abuse, as people thought in the past. But in people who have rosacea, drinking alcohol may cause symptoms to get worse (flare).

Rosacea often flares when something causes the blood vessels in the face to expand, which causes redness. Things that cause a flare-up are called triggers. Common triggers are exercise, sun and wind exposure, hot weather, stress, spicy foods, alcohol, and hot baths. Swings in temperature from hot to cold or cold to hot can also cause a flare-up of rosacea.

What are the symptoms?

People with rosacea may have:

  • A flushed, red face with sensitive, dry skin that may burn or sting.
  • Small bumps and pimples or acne-like breakouts.
  • Skin that gets coarser and thicker, with a bumpy texture.
  • Dry, red, irritated eyes.

In rare cases, rosacea that is not treated may cause permanent effects, such as thickening of the skin on your face or loss of vision. It may cause knobby bumps on the nose, called rhinophyma (say "ry-no-FY-muh"). Over time, it can give the nose a swollen, waxy look. But most cases of rosacea don't progress this far.

How is it treated?

Doctors can prescribe medicines and other treatments for rosacea. There is no cure, but with treatment, most people can control their symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse.

  • Redness and breakouts can be treated with:
    • Pills, such as low-dose antibiotics like doxycycline.
    • Skin creams that contain medicine, such as azelaic acid, brimonidine, or metronidazole.
  • Redness from tiny blood vessels can be treated with lasers and another light treatment called intense pulsed light (IPL).
  • Dry, sensitive skin can be protected with products for sensitive skin, such as moisturizers and sunscreen.
  • Dry, red, and irritated eyes can be treated with artificial tears or prescription eyedrops that contain a medicine such as cyclosporine.
  • Thickened or bumpy skin on the nose or face can be treated with cosmetic surgery.

How can you prevent rosacea flare-ups?

There are some things you can do to reduce symptoms and keep rosacea from getting worse.

  • Get any bothersome symptoms under control. A dermatologist can prescribe treatments to reduce redness and any breakouts.
  • Find your triggers. One of the most important things is to learn what triggers your flare-ups, and then avoid them. It can help to keep a diary of what you were eating, drinking, and doing on days that the rosacea appeared. Take the diary to your next doctor visit, and discuss what you can do to help control the disease.
  • Protect your face. Stay out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm. When you are outdoors, protect your face by wearing a wide-brimmed hat or visor. Use a sunscreen that is rated SPF 30 or higher every day. If your skin is dry, find a moisturizer with sunscreen.
  • Be gentle with your skin. Use skin care products for sensitive skin, and avoid any products that scratch or irritate your skin. Try not to rub or scrub your skin.
  • Take care of your eyes. Gently wash your eyelids with a product made for the eyes. Apply a warm, wet cloth several times a day. Use artificial tears if your eyes feel dry. Or talk to your doctor about medicine you can put into your eyes.

Other Places To Get Help

Organization

American Academy of Dermatology
www.aad.org

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Abramowicz M (2013). Drugs for acne, rosacea and psoriasis. Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 11(125): 1–8.
  • Berth-Jones J (2010). Rosacea. In MG Lebwohl et al., eds., Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies, 3rd ed., pp. 669–676. Edinburgh: Saunders Elsevier.
  • Habif TP (2010). Acne, rosacea, and related disorders. In Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy, 5th ed., pp. 217–263. Philadelphia: Mosby.
  • Pelle MT (2012). Rosacea. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 918–925. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Van Zuuren EJ, et al. (2011). Interventions for rosacea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).
  • Wolff K, Johnson RA (2009). Rosacea. In Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology, 6th ed., pp. 9–13. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerAmy McMichael, MD - Dermatology

Current as ofFebruary 16, 2018


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×