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Rosacea

Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common skin condition that causes redness in your face and often produces small, red, pus-filled bumps. Although rosacea can occur in anyone, it most commonly affects middle-aged women who have fair skin.

Left untreated, rosacea tends to worsen over time. Rosacea signs and symptoms may flare up for a period of weeks to months and then diminish before flaring up again. Rosacea can be mistaken for acne, an allergic reaction or other skin problems.

While there's no cure for rosacea, treatments can control and reduce the signs and symptoms. If you experience persistent redness of your face, see your doctor for a diagnosis and proper treatment.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Signs and symptoms of rosacea may include:

  • Facial redness. Rosacea usually causes a persistent redness in the central portion of your face. Small blood vessels on your nose and cheeks often swell and become visible.
  • Swollen red bumps. Many people who have rosacea also develop bumps on their face that resemble acne. These bumps sometimes contain pus. Your skin may feel hot and tender.
  • Eye problems. About half of the people who have rosacea also experience eye dryness, irritation and swollen, reddened eyelids. In some people, rosacea's eye symptoms precede the skin symptoms.
  • Enlarged nose. Rarely, rosacea can thicken the skin on the nose, causing the nose to appear bulbous (rhinophyma). This occurs more often in men than in women.

When to see a doctor

If you experience persistent redness of your face, see your doctor or a skin specialist (dermatologist) for a diagnosis and proper treatment.

The cause of rosacea is unknown, but it could be due to some combination of hereditary and environmental factors.

A number of factors can trigger or aggravate rosacea by increasing blood flow to the surface of your skin. Some of these factors include:

  • Hot foods or beverages
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Temperature extremes
  • Sunlight
  • Stress, anger or embarrassment
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Hot baths or saunas
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • Drugs that dilate blood vessels, including some blood pressure medications

Although anyone can develop rosacea, you may be more likely to develop rosacea if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Have fair skin
  • Are between the ages of 30 and 60
  • Have a family history of rosacea

In severe and rare cases, the oil glands (sebaceous glands) in your nose and sometimes your cheeks become enlarged, resulting in a buildup of tissue on and around your nose — a condition called rhinophyma (ri-no-FI-muh). This complication is much more common in men and develops slowly over a period of years.

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