Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date.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. 2007;75(5):712

What is rosacea?

Rosacea (ro-ZAY-she-ah) is a disease that affects the skin on the face. It often begins as redness that looks like a blush across the nose, cheeks, chin, or forehead. As time goes on, red pimples and pus-filled bumps may appear. Some people also notice small blood vessels across their nose and cheeks. In some people, the skin of the nose may become red and thick. Rosacea can also irritate the eyelids and the white part of the eye.

What causes rosacea, and who gets it?

No one knows what causes rosacea. There may not be just one cause. Rosacea tends to run in fair-skinned families and tends to occur in people who blush easily. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 30 and 60. Women are more likely to get rosacea on the cheeks and chin, but rosacea tends to be worse in men.

Can rosacea be cured?

No, but it can be treated. Rosacea lasts for a long time. For most people, it tends to get better and then worse. Treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms and making your skin look better.

How is rosacea treated?

The type of medicine your doctor recommends will depend on how your skin looks. Treatment generally is best for improving the pimples and bumps of rosacea. The redness of the skin is harder to treat. Antibiotics are used to treat rosacea. This kind of medicine may be applied to the skin or taken as pills.

It may take up to two months of treatment before the skin looks better. It is hard to know how long you will need treatment for rosacea.

What can I do to help my rosacea get better?

Gentle skin care is best, and your doctor may recommend that you use a mild soap and a moisturizer. It is also a good idea to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on a regular basis.

Certain things seem to make rosacea worse. These include sun exposure, hot drinks, alcohol, spicy foods, strenuous exercise, stress, heat, and cold. If these things make your rosacea worse, you may want to avoid them as much as possible.

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