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Alternative Names
acne rosacea

Rosacea is a chronic inflammation that occurs on the skin of the face. It usually appears between ages 30 and 50.

What is going on in the body?
Rosacea results in blushing, enlarged tiny blood vessels in the surface of the skin, red pimple-like bumps, and the thickening of the skin's oil glands. It primarily occurs over the middle face, nose, and cheeks.

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
Symptoms of rosacea commonly include:
  • a red, flushed look to the inner cheeks and across the bridge of the nose. The redness may also extend to the lower forehead and chin as well as the entire cheek area.
  • inflamed, acne-like bumps. These are usually superficial but may be deep and painful.
  • mild swelling of the skin on the cheeks and nose
  • thickening of the oil glands in the skin of the nose
  • swelling of tiny blood vessels on the face
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The exact cause of rosacea is unknown. This disorder is common in people with fair skin, from Northern European ethnic backgrounds. A person with rosacea often has a history of reddened skin and acne, or pimples.

What can be done to prevent the condition?
Rosacea is usually unavoidable in most people. However, certain trigger factors that may worsen the condition can be avoided. These include:
  • alcoholic beverages
  • hot spicy foods
  • anxiety and stress that cause flushing
  • exposure to heat and sunlight
How is the condition diagnosed?
The condition is diagnosed by its appearance.

What are the long-term effects of the condition?
The main effect of rosacea is disfigurement due to scarring. This is particularly true in men, who are prone to develop thickened tissue on the nose. The eyes may be involved in serious cases, which may cause vision problems. The person may suffer emotionally from having a chronic skin disorder.

What are the risks to others?
There are no risks to others, as this condition is not contagious.

What are the treatments for the condition?
Treatment of rosacea may include:
  • metronidazole, corticosteroids, or sulphur-based cream applied directly to the affected skin
  • oral antibiotics, especially tetracycline or minocycline
  • oral isotretinoin
  • laser removal of the enlarged blood vessels
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects depend upon the type of treatment chosen. Side effects are minimal with topical medications or low doses of tetracycline, but may include allergic reactions and stomach upset.

What happens after treatment for the condition?
All visible signs of the skin condition may clear up with treatment. However, the general redness of the skin and easy flushing may not go away.

How is the condition monitored?
The appearance of the skin can be monitored. Eye involvement may require frequent examination by an eye specialist if vision is affected. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.

Author: Lynn West, MD
Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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