Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Rosacea–What Is It, and What Can I Do About It?


Am Fam Physician. 2002 Aug 1;66(3):442.

What is rosacea?

Rosacea (say “rose-ay-shah”) is a disease that affects the skin of the face. Rosacea usually starts with redness on the cheeks. It can slowly worsen to include one or more symptoms and several parts of the face. Symptoms may include blushing (reddening of the face), a blotchy red facial rash, or spots resembling acne. Unlike acne, however, rosacea usually first occurs in adults between the ages of 35 and 50. Eye symptoms such as redness, itching, and a gritty feeling are often associated with this condition. The rash of rosacea is not painful. Rosacea is not dangerous, but it can get worse if not properly treated.

What causes rosacea?

The cause of rosacea is unknown. Some factors that do not cause rosacea can make it worse, such as sun exposure, cold weather, certain foods, alcoholic beverages, or social embarrassment.

Can rosacea be treated?

Yes. Your family physician may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic. Other skin creams or oral medications may also be helpful. In most cases, it will take several weeks to see results. Once symptoms have cleared, patients may need to continue taking medication. In advanced cases, a referral for skin laser surgery may be arranged.

What can I do about rosacea?

Avoid anything that irritates your skin. Use a topical sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher whenever you think you may be in the sun for a while. Green-tinted cosmetics may help to mask the rash if a flare-up occurs. Regular follow-up and consultation with your family physician is important.

Where can I find more information about rosacea?

National Rosacea Society

800 South Northwest Highway, Suite 200

Barrington, Illinois 60010

Telephone: 1-888-NO-BLUSH


E-mail address:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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