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Rosacea Symptoms

Most people think of rosacea as a red face. It’s true this skin condition can cause facial redness, but it can also cause many other symptoms. They range from pimples on your cheeks to thick skin on your nose. Rosacea usually appears on your face, but you can have it on your neck, scalp, ears, eyes, or chest, too.

As many as 16 million Americans have rosacea, yet many don't realize they have it. Rosacea can be treated, but step one is knowing it's there. 

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The First Signs

Rosacea symptoms often don’t start to appear until age 30 or later.

"At first, the symptoms can come and go, so many people think it’s acne or a sunburn," says Elizabeth S. Martin, MD. She's a dermatologist in private practice in Hoover, AL. Over time, though, symptoms can get worse.

The Types of Rosacea

Symptoms can be different from person to person. There are four basic types of rosacea. You can have just one type, or you can have more. Women tend to have rosacea more often than men, but men tend to have more severe symptoms.

"Rosacea is often not what people think. Over time, it can change from one type to another and get worse. That’s why early treatment is important," says Seemal R. Desai, MD, FAAD. He's a clinical assistant professor in the department of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Type 1: Facial Redness

This is the most common type of rosacea and the type most people know. Symptoms can include:

  • Stinging, burning, sensitive skin
  • Visible small blood vessels
  • Dry or rough skin
  • Swollen skin
  • Blushing or flushing easily

Type 2: Breakouts

This type causes pimples on the skin that can look like acne. It’s the second most common type of rosacea. Other symptoms can include:

  • Oily skin
  • Patchy raised areas on the skin
  • Visible small blood vessels
  • Sensitive skin

Type 3: Thick Skin

This type of rosacea is rare. Most people have another type first. Left untreated, it can cause skin thickening on the nose, making it look enlarged.

It can also cause:

  • Bumpy skin
  • Large pores
  • Oily skin

Type 4: Ocular Rosacea

This type of rosacea affects the eyes. People often say it feels like having grit or sand in your eyes.

"If you have another type of rosacea, it’s important to watch for symptoms of ocular rosacea,” Desai says. "If not treated, it can cause problems with vision."

Other symptoms include: 

  • Dry eyes
  • Burning or stinging in the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Frequent styes

When to See Your Doctor

If you have any rosacea symptoms, see your doctor. Early treatment can ease symptoms and help stop rosacea from getting worse. "We don’t have a cure for rosacea yet, but we have lots of treatment options that can help," Martin says.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on February 04, 2014

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