What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a long-term skin condition that causes reddened skin and a rash, usually on the nose and cheeks. It may also cause eye problems.

Who gets rosacea?

Anyone can get rosacea, but it is more common among:

  • Middle-aged and older adults.
  • Women, but when men get it, it tends to be more severe.
  • People with fair skin, but it may not be diagnosed as often in people with darker skin, since some symptoms may be harder to see in darker skin.

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

Most people only have some of the symptoms of rosacea, and the symptoms are different from one person to another. While the condition lasts a long time, rosacea often goes back and forth between flare-ups and times when you do not have symptoms.

The symptoms of rosacea include:

  • Redness on the face, usually on the nose and cheeks. Over time, your face may be red or flushed for longer periods. You may also feel tingling or burning, and the reddened skin may turn rough and scaly.
  • Rash. You may develop red or pus-filled bumps and pimples that look like acne.
  • Visible blood vessels. These typically show up as thin red lines on the cheeks and nose.
  • Thickened skin, especially on the nose. This is one of the more severe symptoms, and it mostly affects men.
  • Eye irritation. In what is called ocular rosacea, the eyes become sore, red, itchy, watery, or dry. It is important to see a health care provider for any eye symptoms. Eye damage and vision loss can happen if left untreated.

The condition usually affects the center of the face, but in rare cases it can affect other parts of the body, such as the sides of the face, the ears, neck, scalp, and chest.

What causes rosacea?

Doctors do not know what causes rosacea, both genes and things in the environment likely play a role.