What Is Rosacea?

If your face looks like you're blushing and you get bumps that are a bit like acne, you might have a skin condition called rosacea. Your doctor can suggest medicine and other treatments to manage your symptoms, and there are plenty of steps you can take at home to make yourself look and feel better.

Symptoms

The biggest thing you'll notice is redness on your cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. Less often, the color can appear on your neck, head, ears, or chest.

After a while, broken blood vessels might show through your skin, which can thicken and swell up. Up to half of people with rosacea also get eye problems like redness, swelling, and pain.

Other symptoms you may get are:

  • Stinging and burning of your skin
  • Patches of rough, dry skin
  • A swollen, bulb-shaped nose
  • Larger pores
  • Broken blood vessels on your eyelids
  • Bumps on your eyelids
  • Problems with seeing

Your rosacea symptoms can come and go. They might flare up for a few weeks, fade, and then come back.

Getting treatment is a must, so make sure you see your doctor. If you don't take care of your rosacea, redness and swelling can get worse and might become permanent.

What Causes It?

Doctors don't know exactly what causes rosacea. A few things that may play a role are:

Your genes. Rosacea often runs in families.

Blood vessel trouble. The redness on your skin might be due to problems with blood vessels in your face. Sun damage could cause them to get wider, which makes it easier for other people to see them.

Mites. They're tiny insects. A type called Demodex folliculorum normally lives on your skin and usually isn't harmful. Some people, though, have more of these bugs than usual. Too many mites could irritate your skin.

Bacteria. A type called H. pylori normally lives in your gut. Some studies suggest this germ can raise the amount of a digestive hormone called gastrin, which might cause your skin to look flushed.

Some things about you may make you more likely to get rosacea. For instance, your chances of getting the skin condition go up if you:

  • Have light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes
  • Are between ages 30 and 50
  • Are a woman
  • Have family members with rosacea
  • Had severe acne
  • Smoke

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Treatments

There isn't a cure for rosacea, but treatments can help you manage the redness, bumps, and other symptoms.

Your doctor may suggest these medicines:

  • Brimonidine (Mirvaso), a gel that tightens blood vessels in the skin to get rid of some of your redness.
  • Azelaic acid, a gel and foam that clears up bumps, swelling, and redness.
  • Metronidazole (Flagyl) and doxycycline, antibiotics that kill bacteria on your skin and bring down redness and swelling.
  • Isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis, and others), an acne drug that clears up skin bumps. Don't use it if you're pregnant because it can cause serious birth defects.

It can take you a few weeks or months of using one of these medicines for your skin to improve.

Your doctor may also recommend some procedures to treat your rosacea, such as:

  • Lasers that use intense light to get rid of blood vessels that have gotten bigger
  • Dermabrasion, which sands off the top layer of skin
  • Electrocautery, an electric current that zaps damaged blood vessels

DIY Skin Care for Rosacea

There's a lot you can do on your own. For starters, try to figure out the things that trigger an outbreak, and then avoid them. To help you do this, keep a journal that tracks your activities and your flare-ups.

Some things that often trigger rosacea are:

Also try to follow these tips every day to help fade the redness on your skin:

Put on sunscreen. Use one that's SPF 30 or higher whenever you go outside. Also wear a wide-brimmed hat that covers your face.

Use only gentle skin care products. Avoid cleansers and creams that have alcohol, fragrance, witch hazel, and other harsh ingredients. After you wash your face, gently blot your skin dry with a soft cloth.

Use a moisturizer. It's especially helpful in cold weather. Low temps and wind can dry up your skin.

Massage your face. Gently rub your skin in a circular motion. Start in the middle of your face and work your way outward toward your ears.

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Cover up. Put a green-tinted cover-up on your face to hide redness and broken blood vessels.

Go indoors. Get out of the heat and sun and cool off in an air-conditioned room.

Care for your eyes. If rosacea has made them red and irritated, use a watered-down baby shampoo or eyelid cleaner to gently clean your eyelids every day. Also put a warm compress on your eyes a few times a day.

It's important to care for your emotions along with your skin problems. If you feel embarrassed by the way you look, or you think it's starting to affect your self-esteem, talk to your doctor or a counselor. You can also join a support group where you can meet people who know just what you're going through.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on September 14, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: "Rosacea: Signs and Symptoms," "Rosacea: Tips for Managing," "Rosacea: Who Gets and Causes."

Mayo Clinic: "Metronidazole (Oral Route)," "Rosacea: Self-Management," "Rosacea: Symptoms and causes," "Rosacea: Treatment."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Rosacea."

National Rosacea Society: "All About Rosacea," "Coping With Rosacea," "Lasers Used to Treat Some Rosacea Signs," "Understanding Rosacea."

NHS: "Rosacea -- Causes."

National Institutes of Health: "Red in the Face."

National Library of Medicine: "Azelaic Acid Topical."

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