Skin HealthWhat Is Rosacea? Signs, Causes, and Treatments

What Is Rosacea? Signs, Causes, and Treatments

It’s completely normal to get a little red-faced from time to time. Blushing when you’re embarrassed or appearing flushed after going for a run is expected and is nothing to worry about. However if you’re constantly red-faced, or if your skin is more sensitive than usual, you may have a skin condition called rosacea. But what is rosacea, and how can you tell if you have it? Below is everything you need to know about rosacea, along with what treatments are available to help manage your symptoms.

What Is Rosacea?

What Is Rosacea?Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes blushing or flushing and visible blood vessels in your face. It’s estimated that over 16 million adults in the United States currently suffer from rosacea or rosacea-like skin conditions. However, many people who seek help for rosacea will often receive an improper diagnosis, so the true number may be much higher. Rosacea is also more common in women than in men and usually develops after the age of 30.

There are four main types of rosacea, each with its distinct symptoms, causes, and treatments. Those include:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea (ETR): ETR is a type of rosacea that is associated with facial redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels. ETR is the most common type of rosacea and is often accompanied by symptoms such as burning or stinging sensations and visible redness of the skin.
  • Papulopustular Rosacea: Also known as acne rosacea, papulopustular rosacea is associated with acne-like breakouts around the face and neck. It is most common among middle-aged women, and will often come and go similar to acne.
  • Phymatous Rosacea: Phymatous rosacea, also known as rhinophyma, is a rare form of rosacea that causes thickening of the skin on your nose. It will usually affect men, although it can occur in women, and is often accompanied by other types of rosacea.
  • Ocular Rosacea: As the name suggests, ocular rosacea is a type of rosacea that affects the eyes. Symptoms include eye redness, irritation, and swollen eyelids.

Even with such a high prevalence, there’s is still a lot scientists don’t know about rosacea. According to a study conducted by the National Rosacea Society, 95 percent of rosacea patients had known little or nothing about its signs and symptoms before their diagnosis. Due to this, rosacea remains a very confusing, difficult condition for millions of people around the world to live with.

What Causes Rosacea?

The exact cause of rosacea is unknown. Doctors and scientists alike have a few leading theories behind the cause of the skin condition.

A few things most experts agree may play a role in the development of rosacea include:

  • Genetics: Like many other conditions, diseases, or ailments that affect the skin, rosacea seems to run in families, although to what extent is still not understood.
  • Mites: Mites are tiny insects that are close cousins with spiders and ticks. A specific type of mite, known as Demodex folliculorum, normally lives on your skin and isn’t harmful. However, some people, specifically those with sensitive skin, appear to be more sensitive to these mites. This sensitivity could lead to irritation, which may lead to rosacea.
  • Blood Vessel Issues: The blood vessels in your face are very sensitive, and are susceptible to many different ailments. Things like sun damage can cause these vessels to become wider, which makes them more visible to others.
  • Bacteria: A type of bacteria known as H. pylori normally lives in your gut. Studies suggest that this bacteria can increase the level of gastrin, a digestive hormone, which may cause your skin to look flushed.

Along with these possible causes, certain foods and beverages are known to worsen the symptoms of rosacea. These include things like dairy products, spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.

Rosacea Symptoms

If your face looks like you’re blushing, or if you notice bumps that are a bit acne-like, you may have rosacea. The biggest indicator of rosacea is redness on your cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. In some instances, the redness may appear on your neck, scalp, ears, or chest.

For those who have had rosacea for longer periods, broken blood vessels may start to show through your skin, which can cause swelling and irritation. About half of people with rosacea will experience eye problems such as redness, swelling, and chronic pain.

Other symptoms of rosacea include:

  • Stinging or burning sensations of the skin
  • Patches of rough or dry skin
  • Swollen or bulb-shaped nose
  • Larger than normal pores
  • Difficulty with eyesight
  • Bumps on your eyelids
  • Broken blood vessels on your eyelids

Rosacea symptoms can come and go, and may even flare up for a few weeks, subside, and come back weeks later. Treatment for rosacea is important, as untreated rosacea can get worse and even become permanent. If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it may be time to talk with your doctor or dermatologist to see what treatments are best for you.

Treatments for Rosacea

Treatments for RosaceaWhile there is no cure for rosacea, there are several treatments that can help you manage your symptoms. The goal of most rosacea treatments is to help reduce redness and inflammation, while also helping to prevent future flare-ups.

Some of the more common treatments for rosacea include:

  • Skin Creams: one of the most common treatments used to help with rosacea is skin creams. Skin creams can help reduce inflammation and skin discoloration. Doctors may recommend using them once or twice per day. Some common skin creams include topical antibiotics, tretinoin, benzoyl peroxide, and azelaic acid.
  • Antibiotics: Another common prescription for rosacea is antibiotics. Oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, minocycline, and erythromycin can have anti-inflammatory effects. These tend to yield faster results than their topical counterparts and can help reduce rosacea symptoms.
  • Eye Drops: Eye drops can be a surprising treatment option for many with rosacea. Since many people with rosacea struggle with some type of eye irritation, eye drops can be an effective treatment method to help with symptoms. A doctor may recommend a type of steroid eye drop called blephamide, or other similar product, for a few days or weeks at a time.
  • Isotretinoin: Isotretinoin (Accutane) is an oral medication that people use in severe cases of rosacea, typically in cases where traditional treatments have failed. Isotretinoin is a powerful drug that prevents the skin from producing oil. While it can help reduce symptoms in some patients, the side effects of isotretinoin can be severe, and you should always consult your doctor before beginning treatment.

While the question, “what is rosacea?” may seem simple on the surface, understanding exactly what this complex skin condition is can be difficult. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that you’ll need to learn to manage. Whether that’s through over-the-counter skin creams or medications prescribed by your doctor, getting treatment for rosacea is the most effective way to manage your symptoms. Another great way to cope with a chronic condition like rosacea is to get support through support groups or online communities. Connecting with other people who have rosacea can help you better understand your condition and feel less alone.

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Pain Cream SHOP
    • Hello Anthony,
      Great question! While rosacea and eczema are both common skin conditions, there are a few things that help differentiate the two.
      First, unlike eczema, rosacea usually occurs on the cheeks and bridge of the nose, and is characterized by flushing, or blushing, of the skin. Flushing is the rapid reddening of the skin, which is usually accompanied by red blotches.
      On the other hand, eczema patches usually break out on specific areas of the body. When eczema affects the face, it will usually be on the eyelids or around the mouth. Unlike rosacea, eczema will not cause any flushing or redness of the skin.
      This is just one of the major differences between the two. Hope this helps!


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