What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a common, non-contagious skin condition that can cause facial redness and acne, increased blushing or flushing, nose swelling, and eye irritation. It affects people of different ages, genders, and skin types. Rosacea doesn’t have a cure, but it’s not life-threatening and you can manage symptoms.
What are the 4 types of rosacea?
Rosacea has four types, each with its own set of symptoms. Some people have multiple types at once.
Type 1: facial redness
This type of rosacea causes pronounced redness on the face, usually on the cheeks and nose. It can look like splotchy patches of squiggly red or purple lines, which are really broken blood vessels under the skin’s surface. You may notice frequent blushing, dryness, scaliness, and swelling on these areas of your face and feel burning or stinging sensations.
Type 2: acne
The second type of rosacea often includes symptoms of Type 1, such as swelling and sensitivity. Type 2 causes additional bumps and blemishes, which are easy to mistake for acne, along with oily skin in some cases.
Type 3: swollen nose
This less common type of rosacea involves scarring, thickened skin, and pronounced pores. The nose may swell and appear rounder and the ears, chin, and forehead may also become swollen. Type 3 occurs more often in men than women.
Type 4: eye irritation
This type of rosacea appears in and around the eyes, and sometimes no other area on the face. Watery or bloodshot eyes and swollen or inflamed eyelids are common symptoms. Usually these eye-related symptoms are minimal, but in severe cases they can impact vision.
Scientists aren’t sure what causes rosacea. Genetics may play a role, as it often runs in families. Other causes could include issues with veins, blood vessels, the immune system, or sensitivity to certain skin mites and bacteria.
In many cases, rosacea flare-ups follow particular triggers. Triggers vary from person to person, but they include:
Anyone can get rosacea, but it’s most common in women and people between the ages of 30 and 50. Rosacea is more prevalent in those with fair skin, but it can appear on people with any skin tone. Though women are more likely to have rosacea, rosacea in men is often more severe. If you have a history with acne or family members with rosacea, you may be more likely to develop the condition.
To be diagnosed with rosacea, you’ll need to see a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin). The dermatologist will examine your skin and ask about your symptoms and medical history. A diagnosis requires at least one of the following symptoms:
- frequent flushing or blushing
- permanent reddening of the facial skin
- blemishes on the face
- visible blood vessels
Treatments for rosacea
Though rosacea doesn’t have a cure, treatments and management options can reduce symptoms and prevent worsening in the future.
Medication for rosacea
Some medications for rosacea are available over-the-counter, but others require a prescription. Products applied topically (directly on the skin) are usually meant to keep skin clear of redness and acne. These products can include benzoyl peroxide, metronidazole, clindamycin, and tretinoin.
Other treatments may come in pill form. Oral medication is useful if topical rosacea treatments don’t work for you. Common oral medications are tetracyclines and isotretinoin, which both reduce blemishes.
Home treatment for rosacea
You can manage rosacea by identifying triggers. Keep track of what products you use and situations that occur shortly before a flare-up or breakout. Knowing what triggers to avoid can ease symptoms.
Surgery for rosacea
Certain medical procedures can reduce the symptoms of rosacea.
Laser therapy removes broken blood vessels underneath the skin without permanent damage. A professional uses a surgical-quality laser to target and dissolve these blood vessels. Results can last three to five years.
Similar laser treatments can also thin thickened skin and reduce nose swelling. If it's used early on, laser treatment helps prevent further nose swelling in the future.
Dermabrasion, which reshapes skin through controlled damage, can also reduce the appearance of a swollen nose.
Side effects of rosacea treatment
Topical medications for rosacea can cause skin warmth, dryness, and stinging. Others may cause nausea or eye irritation. Oral medications can also increase skin sensitivity and stomach upset, and can pose risk of birth defects for pregnant women.
Laser therapy and dermabrasion can cause temporary skin flaking, blistering, swelling, bleeding, and other irritation. Talk to your doctor before any rosacea treatment to make sure it’s safe for you.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "Lasers and Lights: How Well Do They Treat Rosacea?"
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "Rosacea: Signs and Symptoms"
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "Rosacea: Who Gets and Causes"
American Family Physician: "Rosacea: Diagnosis and Treatment"
Australian Prescriber: "An update on the treatment of rosacea"
Harvard Health Publishing: "Rosacea"
InformedHealth: "Rosacea: Overview"
Mayo Clinic: "Metronidazole (Topical Route)."
Mayo Clinic: "Tretinoin (Topical Route)."
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Who Gets Rosacea?"
National Rosacea Society: "Factors That May Trigger Rosacea Flare-ups"
NYU Langone Health: "Oral Medication for Rosacea"
Stanford Health Care: "Acne Rosacea"
Winchester Hospital: "Medications for Rosacea"
Winchester Hospital: "Surgical Procedures for Rosacea"
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