Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2002;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

  • Web

  • E-mail address:

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