Rosacea is a common and long-term skin condition that mainly affects a person's face.
When rosacea first appears, the face may look flushed. Later symptoms include permanent redness, spots, visible blood vessels and a sensation of burning or tingling.
Rosacea affects around one in 10 people to some extent, mostly among people with fair skin.
Causes of rosacea
The cause of rosacea is not known, although there are several different theories. One theory is that rosacea may be part of a more generalised disorder of the blood vessels. Other theories suggest that the condition is caused by microscopic skin mites, fungus, psychological factors, or a malfunction of the connective tissue under the skin. Although no-one knows definitely what causes rosacea, some circumstances and conditions can trigger the condition.
Risk factors for rosacea
People who have fair skin and who tend to blush easily may be at a higher risk of the condition. The condition can also affect people of Asian and African origin. Rosacea appears more often among women around the time of menopause along with hot flushes.
Is there a cure for rosacea?
While there is no cure for rosacea, medical therapy is available to control or reverse the signs and symptoms. If you suspect that you have rosacea, seek medical advice.
Signs and symptoms of rosacea
The appearance of rosacea can vary greatly from one individual to another. Most of the time, not all of the potential signs and symptoms appear. Rosacea always includes at least one of the primary signs listed below. Various secondary signs and symptoms may also develop.
Primary signs of rosacea include:
- Flushing. Many people who have rosacea have a history of frequent blushing or flushing. The facial redness, which may come and go, is often the earliest sign of the disorder.
- Persistent redness. Persistent facial redness may resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.
- Bumps and pimples. Small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples often develop in rosacea. Sometimes the bumps may resemble acne, but there are no blackheads. There may also be burning or stinging.
- Visible blood vessels. Small blood vessels become visible on the skin of many people who have rosacea.
Other potential signs and symptoms include:
- Eye irritation. The eyes may be irritated and appear watery or bloodshot in some people with rosacea. This condition, called ocular rosacea, can also cause styes as well as redness and swelling of the eyelids. Severe cases, if left untreated, can result in corneal damage and vision loss.
- Burning or stinging. Burning or stinging sensations may occur on the face, and itchiness or a feeling of tightness may also develop.
- Dry appearance. The central facial skin may be rough, and thus appear to be very dry.
- Plaques. Raised red patches may develop without changes in the surrounding skin.
- Skin thickening. In some cases of rosacea, the skin may thicken and enlarge from excess tissue, resulting in a condition called rhinophyma. This condition often occurs on the nose, causing it to have a bulbous appearance.
- Swelling. Facial swelling can occur independently or can accompany other signs of rosacea.
Signs and symptoms of rosacea may develop beyond the face, affecting areas including the neck, chest, scalp, or ears.