What is rosacea?

Debra Jaliman, MD

Rosacea is an inflammatory disorder that causes redness, inflammation and bumps or pustules on the face. In this video, dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, describes this skin condition, and discusses whether or not there is a genetic component.

Rosacea can present itself in different ways. It may appear as pink or red flushing or dilated blood vessels alone or with pus-filled bumps or deeper red bumps. It can also cause skin thickening and enlargement, usually around the nose. Rosacea may worsen with exposure to certain factors, such as hot or cold temperatures, sunlight, alcohol, spicy foods, stress and heavy exercise. Chronic use of topical steroids on the face may lead to steroid rosacea. The cause of rosacea is unknown.

Celeste Robb-Nicholson
Internal Medicine
Sometimes confused with adult acne because it causes pimples on the face, rosacea affects mainly adults, and responds to some acne medications. Rosacea is nonetheless a separate, chronic condition. Symptoms may include pimples and enlarged blood vessels, causing redness and swelling mainly in the middle of the face. Eye irritation, another symptom, is often referred to as ocular rosacea. Rosacea has no cure, but treatment can help control and prevent the most severe symptoms -- enlarged blood vessels and redness and swelling of the nose.

The hallmarks of this skin condition, which affects adults after the age of about 30, is redness on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Fair-skinned people who blush or become flushed easily may be more at risk for rosacea. Some people develop a ruddy appearance and blood vessels can become visible, as well as pimples in the red area. It can also affect the eyes, making them irritated and watery. Lots of people who think they have rosacea, however, simply have sun damage.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

Ben Kaminsky
Rosacea is an acne-like skin condition that affects more than 14 million Americans, usually between the ages of 25 and 60. It is characterized by redness in the central part of the face, including the nose, cheek, eyelids, and forehead. While many skin conditions are curable, rosacea is not. It is a chronic (long-term) disorder that is characterized by periods of exacerbation (flares) and remission. The goal of treatment with rosacea is control of symptoms—rather than curing the disease itself. In the most serious cases, patients suffer from large, disfiguring bumps on the face, dark ruddy skin, and serious eye problems.
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Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Rosacea is a skin disorder that causes your face to flush. Blood vessels beneath the skin expand, which allows more blood to flow to the surface layer. The extra blood near the surface is what gives people with rosacea the typical red, flushed appearance.


Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
A hypersensitivity to sun and other factors cause blood vessels near the skin to dilate. This rush of circulation makes the complexion appear red and sets off a vicious cycle of inflammatory cells rushing to the area and triggering angiogenesis (the growth of more blood vessels). The body's wound-healing response tries to provide more highways, or veins, so inflammatory cells can go fix the problem near the skin, and consequently creates a bigger problem. Like acne, rosacea has a diagnostic spectrum of mild to severe. It can generate mild flushing, persistent redness, or the more severe papular kind of acne rosacea with bumpy pimples and sometimes thickening of the skin (rhinophyma). Those tiny pink papules contain inflammatory cells (neutrophils or Tcells), just like the pimples caused by dry skin or irritation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.