What is rosacea?

Rosacea (rose-AY-sha) is a common skin disease. It often begins with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people do.

With time, people who have rosacea may see permanent redness in the center of their face. The redness can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin.

Rosacea can cause more than redness. Rosacea can cause acne-like breakouts, visible blood vessels on the face, and dry, irritated eyes. To treat these diverse signs and symptoms, dermatologists divide rosacea into 4 subtypes.

The pictures on the right show the 4 subtypes. Few people get all of the signs shown here. Some signs and symptoms are more common. Many people get the acne-like breakouts shown in #2. It is rare to get the enlarged nose shown in #3.

Myths about rosacea common
Although rosacea is common, many myths prevail. To care for rosacea, it’s important to know what is myth and what is fact. You’ll find some of the popular rosacea myths debunked here.

Myth: Rosacea can be cured.
Fact: If you’ve seen ads that promise an all-natural cure, you may be wondering why doctors won’t tell you about it. Dermatologists would tell their patients if there was a cure. Today, there is no cure for rosacea. For many people, treatment can help ease the discomfort and prevent rosacea from worsening.

Myth: Drinking causes rosacea.
Fact: Alcohol can worsen symptoms of rosacea such as flushing. Drinking, however, does not cause rosacea.

Myth: Rosacea is contagious.
Fact: You cannot catch rosacea from someone else. You cannot get rosacea from kissing, swimming in the same pool, or even having sex.

Rosacea can last a long time
With or without treatment, rosacea is unpredictable. Many people have rosacea for years. In one study, researchers asked 48 people who had seen a dermatologist about their rosacea. More than half (52%) had rosacea for an average of 13 years. During that time, their rosacea came and went. The rest of the people (48%) had seen their rosacea clear. People who saw their rosacea clear had rosacea for an average of 9 years.

For some people, rosacea is a lifelong condition. Proper treatment and skin care may ease signs and symptoms.

Treatment eases discomfort
Seeing a dermatologist for rosacea treatment has benefits. It can ease discomfort and even stop the rosacea from getting worse. Many people find that with proper treatment, others cannot even tell they have rosacea.

It is best to see a dermatologist for treatment. Some products available without a prescription may help some signs and symptoms of rosacea, but these same products can worsen other signs and symptoms.

By seeing a dermatologist you can make sure that you have rosacea, learn what subtype (or subtypes) you have, and get a proper treatment plan. Your treatment plan will include proper skin care and be tailored to your needs.

Learn more about rosacea
What causes rosacea?

Could I have rosacea?

Rosacea Treatment

Crawford GH, Pelle MT, James WD. “Rosacea: I. Etiology, pathogenesis, and subtype classification.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2004; 51: 327-41; quiz 42-4.

The Lewin Group. “The Burden of Skin Diseases 2005,” Prepared for the Society of Investigative Dermatology and the American Academy of Dermatology. Last accessed September 21, 2010. Available at www.lewin.com/content/publications/april2005skindisease.pdf.

Nicholson K, Abramova L, Chren MM et al. “A pilot quality-of-life instrument for acne rosacea.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2007; 57: 213-21.

Powell FC. “Clinical practice. Rosacea.” N Engl J Med 2005; 352: 793-803.

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

According to a survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society, skin care products and cosmetics that contain alcohol, eucalyptus, fragrance, menthol, peppermint, or witch hazel are more likely to aggravate rosacea.



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Page last updated 3/15/11

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