Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Understanding Rosacea -- the Basics

What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a common, lasting skin condition that affects about 14 million Americans. Its symptoms are usually patchy redness and inflammation, especially on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. It often starts between the ages of 30 and 50 and affects more women than men. Because symptoms start slowly, rosacea may be mistaken at first for sunburn.

As the condition gets worse, redness becomes more lasting and obvious. Some people also notice stinging or burning feelings. Small, red, solid bumps (called papules) and pus-filled pimples (called pustules) may appear on the skin. Because these look like acne, rosacea is sometimes mistaken for acne.

Recommended Related to Skin Problems & Treatments


Acrocyanosis is blueness of the extremities (the hands and feet). Acrocyanosis is typically symmetrical. It is marked by a mottled blue or red discoloration of the skin on the fingers and wrists and the toes and ankles. Profuse sweating and coldness of the fingers and toes may also occur. Acrocyanosis is caused by narrowing (constriction) of small arterioles (tiny arteries) toward the end of the arms and legs.

Read the Acrocyanosis article > >

Small blood vessels (telangiectasias) may become visible, too. Often, when people with rosacea blush, the blood vessels in their faces look like thin, red lines. In some cases, the eyes may become red, irritated, and may burn (ocular rosacea).

In advanced cases, more of the face is affected. The skin swells and small bumps develop on the nose, making it appear red and swollen. This condition, called rhinophyma, is rare and usually affects men. It was the cause of the late comedian W.C. Fields' best-known feature -- his trademark bulbous nose.

Rosacea may get worse over time, leading to permanent changes in looks and affecting self-esteem. There is no known cure for rosacea, but it is treatable. Most cases of rosacea can be controlled by avoiding the things that trigger it -- such as the sun, spicy foods, drinking hot beverages and alcohol, using sun protection -- and by using medication.

What Causes Rosacea?

No one knows what causes rosacea. Researchers have several ideas:

  • A disorder of the blood vessels that causes them to swell and leads to redness
  • A genetic problem combined with environmental factors that irritate the skin
  • Clogging of skin gland openings with skin mites

Rosacea seems to affect fair-skinned people more often, though it can affect anyone. Often several people in a family have rosacea, so researchers think it may be at least partly genetic. In some cases, rosacea may be linked with migraines, other skin problems, and certain eye disorders, including blepharitis and keratitis.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on March 04, 2015

Today on WebMD

Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
itchy skin
shingles rash on skin
woman with skin tag
Woman washing face
woman washing her hair in sink
close up of womans bare neck
woman with face cream