Rosacea is a skin problem that causes flushing and redness of the face. It can also cause a rash or small red sores that look like acne.

Ocular rosacea affects the eyes. It makes them red and irritated.

Rosacea Rash
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The cause not known.

Rosacea symptoms may be set off by:

  • Sunny, cold, or windy weather
  • Stress
  • Hot baths or showers
  • Working out
  • Alcohol
  • Hot or spicy foods
  • Caffeine
  • Rubbing, scrubbing, or massaging the face

Risk Factors

Rosacea often starts in people over 30 years of age. It is more common in people with fair skin who are of European descent.

Other things that may increase the risk are:

  • Sun exposure
  • Long-term use of topical steroids



Facial flushing and redness are the most common symptom. Other may be:

  • Symptoms of the face, ears, chest, and back:
    • Broken blood vessels
    • Swelling
    • Stinging and burning skin
    • Dry, oily, or rough skin
    • Acne-like pimples
    • Raised patches of skin
    • Thickened skin (rare)
  • Symptoms in the eyes:
    • Redness and tearing
    • Burning, itching, and dryness
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Blurred eyesight


You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a doctor who treats skin problems.



There is no cure. Treatment will help to manage symptoms. Treatment choices are:

Skin Care

The first step is to identify triggers. They can vary from person to person. Avoiding triggers can stop symptoms.

Keeping skin healthy will also help. Basic skin care includes:

  • Sun protection with sunscreen with SPF of 30 or greater
  • Washing with mild cleanser
  • Letting the face fully dry before using lotion or makeup
  • Working out in a cool setting


Medicine may help to calm symptoms that do appear. Choices are:

  • Antibiotics or anti-parasitics pills or lotions
  • Medicated creams or gels—to help manage acne
  • Medicated creams or gels—to help shrink blood vessels near surface of skin and decrease redness
  • Eye drops—to increase tear production (ocular rosacea)
  • Acne pills—for severe rosacea


Surgery may help if other treatment has not worked. It can help to decrease redness and manage enlarged blood vessels. Options include:

  • Intense pulsed light therapy
  • Laser therapy


There are no steps to prevent rosacea.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.


American Academy of Dermatology 

National Rosacea Society 


Canadian Dermatology Association 

Health Canada 


Gallo RL, Granstein RD, Kang S, et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018 Jan;78(1):148-155

Rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed September 25, 2018.

Rosacea. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  . Updated September 24, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.

Rosacea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated August 27, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.

Rosacea. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Updated April 30, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2018.

van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Carter B, van der Linden MM, Charland L. Interventions for rosacea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(4):CD003262.