Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date.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. 2009;80(5):505

See related article on acne rosacea.

What is rosacea?

Rosacea (ro-ZAY-she-ah), which is also called acne rosacea, is a skin disease that causes redness on your face. It can affect your nose, forehead, chin, and the skin around your mouth.

There are different types of rosacea that may cause acne-like blackheads, red bumps, and skin thickening. The blood vessels in your face may also be larger than normal. You may have redness, itching, and a gritty feeling in your eyes.

It is often confused with blushing, sunburn, or the type of acne that causes pimples. Symptoms can get better over time, but rosacea may never go away completely. You should be treated so that it doesn't get worse.

What causes it?

The cause of rosacea is unknown, but it may run in families. Certain things may trigger rosacea, such as sun exposure, alcoholic drinks, spicy foods, stress, and some medicines.

How is it treated?

Your doctor may prescribe a cream to put on your skin or gel to put in your eyes, if they are affected. You may also need to take an oral medicine. Your doctor can help you find the treatment that is best for you.

After your symptoms have cleared, you may still need to use a skin cream or take medicine. You may need laser surgery to fix discolored or thickened skin.

What can I do to reduce the risk of flare-ups?

  • Avoid the things that seem to trigger your rosacea.

  • Stay out of the sun when possible. If you are in the sun, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

  • Use a moisturizer and gentle cleansers that do not contain fragrance or soap.

  • Do not use skin care products with ingredients that could irritate your skin, such as alcohol, menthol, eucalyptus oil, clove oil, peppermint, witch hazel, and sodium lauryl sulfate.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American Academy of Dermatology

American Academy of Family Physicians

National Rosacea Society

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