Rosacea is a disorder of the follicles and surrounding skin that usually occurs on the forehead, nose, and chin. It involves reddening, acnelike lesions, and broken blood vessels. Rosacea improves and worsens in unpredictable cycles. The exact cause is unknown.
Causes and Risk Factors

Although rosacea can appear at any age, it is most prevalent between 30 and 60 years old. It occurs about equally in men and women, although most severe cases usually are seen in men. Rosacea seems to have a genetic component. Individuals whose family members have rosacea, have a higher incidence of the disorder than the general population.

Emotional and physical stress, windy conditions, heat, and sun exposure can exacerbate rosacea. Dietary triggers include dairy products, certain spices, hot liquids, and alcohol.

Some people with stomach ulcers are prone to develop rosacea. The cause of a high percentage of stomach ulcers is infection with the bacterium Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori). While studies are still inconclusive, eradication of H. pylori in ulcer patients can lead to improvement in rosacea. There is increasing evidence that this bacterium causes a variety of systemic disorders. However, rosacea appears without H. pylori and vice versa.


Doctors usually diagnose rosacea by observing the appearance of the skin. Not all redness, flushing, and blushing is caused by rosacea. However, if it takes a long time for redness to clear up or if it never clears up, rosacea is suspected.

Acne pustules sometimes develop with this condition; however, blackheads are not a hallmark. Bacterial infections can contribute to inflammation. As the disorder progresses, the patientís facial skin exhibits broken blood vessels. A rare symptom is rhinophyma, a thick, leathery texture of the nose skin. Rhinophyma is a condition of the skin that can severely deform the nose. Symptoms include overgrowth of the sebaceous (oil making) skin glands, vessel and tissue growth in the deeper layers of the skin, and a thickening of the outer layer of the skin. This can make for a very obvious and prominent nose.

The eyes can be affected with irritation and increased light sensitivity.


There is no cure for rosacea. However, many things can be done to minimize the impact of symptoms. When inflammation and pustules develop, the doctor may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics. Mild acids that peel surface skin layers can help promote normal skin growth. Topical vitamin K can surface vessels, which lessens the reddening.

In severe cases, the dermatologist may treat the blood vessels in one of two ways: (1) by injecting a concentrated saline (saltwater) solution into the vessels to close them; or (2) by using a laser or cautery to seal the broken vessels and prevent blood flow to the surface.


If an individual is predisposed to rosacea, the preventive steps involve managing the environmental and dietary triggers related to the disorder. The use of sunscreen minimizes the effects of sun exposure. Staying indoors and using air conditioning during hot, humid weather reduces the heat component. An individual whose rosacea is triggered by dairy products, alcohol, or certain spices should restrict their intake or eliminate them from the diet.

According to a recent National Rosacea Society* survey of more than 2,000 rosacea sufferers, 44 percent reported that their symptoms had first appeared in their 30s and 40s, and 43 percent first experienced rosacea after age 50. Now that the oldest members of the baby boom generation are turning 50 and the youngest are 32, they have fully reached the prime years for developing this conspicuous condition that today affects an estimated one in 20 Americans.

*The National Rosacea Society

*The National Rosacea Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people with rosacea by raising awareness, providing public health information and supporting research on this widespread but little-known disorder. The information the Society provides should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace consultation with a qualified physician. The Society does not evaluate, endorse or recommend any particular medications, products, equipment or treatments. Rosacea may vary substantially from one patient to another, and treatment must be tailored by a physician for each individual case.

National Rosacea Society
E-mail address: [email protected]
800 South Northwest Highway,
Suite 200,
Barrington, Illinois 60010
Ph: 1-888-NO-BLUSH

Research Grants Program

Perhaps nowhere else in dermatology is so little known about a disorder that affects so many. The National Rosacea Society has instituted a research grants program to encourage and support scientific investigation into the potential causes and other key aspects of this condition that may lead to improvements in its treatment and potential prevention or cure.

How to Apply for a Grant
The Society awards grants of $10,000 to $25,000 or higher in special cases for research on rosacea. Because the etiology of rosacea is unknown, high priority is given to research in such areas as pathogenesis, progression, mechanism of action, cell biology and potential genetic factors of this conspicuous and often life-disruptive condition. Studies may also be funded in such areas as epidemiology, predisposition, quality of life and associations with environmental and lifestyle factors.


Coping with Rosacea Brochure

Rosacea Tripwires

Patient Diary Checklist

Frequently Asked Questions

The Rosacea Clinic - UK

Rosacea Support Website