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Rosacea - Introduction

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Rosacea is a common but poorly understood long-term (

chronic) skin condition that mainly affects the face.

Symptoms begin with episodes of flushing (when the skin turns red).

As rosacea progresses, other symptoms can develop such as:

  • burning and stinging sensations
  • permanent redness
  • spots (papules and pustules)
  • small blood vessels in the skin becoming visible

In the most severe cases, skin can thicken and enlarge, usually on and around the nose.

Learn more about the symptoms of rosacea.

See your GP if you think you have rosacea as early treatment helps reduce the chance of severe symptoms.

Triggers of rosacea

While the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, several triggers have been identified that may make the condition worse.

 These include:

  • exposure to sunlight
  • stress
  • exercise
  • cold weather (wind)
  • heat 
  • the menopause
  • certain medications, such as vasodilator drugs 
  • hot drinks
  • alcohol and caffeine
  • eating certain foods, such as spicy foods

Identifying and avoiding the triggers of rosacea can be a useful way of controlling the symptoms.

Read more information about preventing rosacea.

Treating rosacea

There is no cure for rosacea, but treatments are available to control symptoms.

Rosacea is a chronic and relapsing condition, which means there are periods when symptoms are particularly bad, followed by periods when the condition is less severe.

As well as avoiding known triggers, certain medicines can help control flare ups.

Read more about treating rosacea

As rosacea can affect your appearance, some people find they experience feelings of low self-esteem or frustration. You should speak to your GP if you are feeling depressed.

Read about complications of rosacea for information on the psychological effects of having a long-term condition.

Who is affected?

Rosacea appears to be quite common, and is estimated to affect up to one in 10 people. It most commonly affects people with fair skin, but can also occur in people of Asian and African origin. 

Rosacea occurs in both men and women and may occur at any age. However, it typically begins after the age of 30. Middle-aged women are more at risk due to hot flushes caused by the menopause.

Medical Review: July 01, 2012
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