Rosacea is a skin condition that affects parts of the face. Symptoms can include facial flushing, facial redness, spots, thickening of the skin, and eye problems such as dry eyes and sore eyelids. Not all symptoms occur in all cases. Rosacea affects about 1 in 10 people in the UK, usually in middle age. Many cases are mild. Spots can usually be cleared with antibiotic treatment. Other treatments may be used for other symptoms. A complication that affects the cornea (front of the eye) is uncommon, but serious. See a doctor urgently if you develop any eye pain or visual problems.


What is rosacea and what are the symptoms?

Rosacea is a skin condition that affects parts of the face. It is sometimes called 'acne rosacea' as it can look similar to acne. However, it is a different condition to acne. Symptoms of rosacea include one or more of the following:

  • Frequent flushing of the face, similar to blushing. This is often the first symptom and may be the only symptom for months or years before anything else develops.
  • Redness (erythema) of parts of the face. This can look similar to sunburn.
  • Small lumpy red spots (papules) and small cysts (pustules) on the face. The spots and cysts look similar to acne. These may 'come and go' in some cases, but remain long-term unless treated in some cases.
  • Telangiectasia on the face. These are tiny blood vessels under the skin which you can see and can become quite prominent on the face.
  • Eye symptoms occur in about half of cases, but are often mild. They can include:
    1) A feeling of something in the eye
    2) Burning, stinging or itchy eyes
    3) Dryness
    4) Sensitivity to light
    5) Eyelid problems such as cysts, styes or eyelid inflammation (blepharitis).
    6) Inflammation of the cornea (the front of the eye) is an uncommon but serious complication that can affect vision. See a doctor urgently if you develop eye pain or visual problems.
  • Thickening of the skin occurs in some cases. The most well known example of this is called a rhinophyma (an unsightly bumpy nose). This is uncommon.

The symptoms on the face are usually just on the central parts of the face - on the cheeks, forehead, nose, around the mouth and chin. Other areas of skin on the head are sometimes affected. Rarely, the skin on the arms or back may be affected. Rosacea is not usually painful or itchy. However, in some cases there may be a burning feeling over the affected skin. You do not usually feel ill with rosacea, and serious complications are uncommon. However, rosacea can be unsightly.


The symptoms can vary from case to case.

For example:

  • Some people only ever get one or two of the symptoms. These may be just mild and not too troublesome. For example, some people just have facial flushing and/or mild redness of the face and never develop any other symptoms.
  • Some people may develop several symptoms, but one symptom may dominate.
  • Spots are a prominent feature in some cases, but not all.
  • Rhinophyma is uncommon, but may occur even without any other symptoms.
  • Eye symptoms occur in some people before any skin symptoms develop.

In short, the development and severity of symptoms can vary greatly.


Who gets rosacea and what causes it?

Up to 1 in 10 people in the UK are thought to develop rosacea. This is a lot of people, but many cases are mild. Symptoms may first appear in your early 20s, but usually do not start until aged 30-60. Rarely, it affects children. Women are more commonly affected than men. However, rosacea is often less severe in women than in men. Rosacea is more common in fair-skinned than dark-skinned people.







The cause of rosacea not known. A number of factors may be involved. For example:

  • The cause of rosacea not known. A number of factors may be involved. For example:
  • Tiny blood vessels under the affected skin may become abnormal or 'leaky'.
  • Sun damage.
  • A germ called demodex follicularum found on the skin may be involved. However,rosacea is certainly not just a simple skin infection, and it is not contagious.
  • Abnormal immune reactions in the skin which leads to inflammation.

However, none of these factors has been proved to be the cause.

Long-term use of steroid creams on the face can cause a condition identical to rosacea. This used to be quite common. However, the danger of overusing steroid creams is now well known, and this is now an uncommon problem.