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Rosacea is a long-term skin condition which usually shows on the face. Find out more about the symptoms, causes and treatments.

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a skin rash which typically affects the face. Symptoms of rosacea are primarily visible on the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin.

Rosacea can affect both sexes, but it’s more common in women – particularly those with very fair skin. It’s a chronic skin condition, and most people affected have intermittent rosacea flare-ups throughout their lives.

What causes rosacea?

The exact cause of rosacea is not known. But there are certain ‘triggers’ that can make episodes of rosacea worse:

  • Alcohol

  • Exercise

  • Hot drinks

  • Spicy foods

  • Temperature extremes and strong weather conditions (such as bright sunlight or severe winds)

  • Stress

Rosacea is not infectious, nor is it related to poor skin care or hygiene.

Symptoms of rosacea

  • Redness over the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin

  • Small broken blood vessels under the skin

  • Little red spots, bumps or pustules

  • Flushing

  • Soreness of the skin or a burning sensation

  • Red, sore and gritty eyelid margins (in some patients)

After many years of rosacea, the skin may become thickened - particularly around the nose.

How to treat rosacea

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for rosacea. But there are treatments that can effectively control it.

A GP can prescribe topical creams to apply to the affected areas. These need to be applied daily and often, for a period of several weeks, before any improvement is noticed.

In more severe rosacea cases, oral antibiotics may be needed.

If your rosacea is not responding to these treatments, you may be referred to a dermatologist for specialist medication or light therapy.

Simple things you can do to prevent rosacea flare-ups include:

  • Protecting skin by wearing high SPF sunscreen

  • Avoid extremes of weather; cover your face in very cold weather, and keep away from very hot, humid or sunny conditions

  • Use gentle skincare products that will not aggravate the skin

  • Avoid the dietary triggers mentioned above

When to see a GP

  • If you suspect you have rosacea you should see a GP for diagnosis (which is usually made after a clinical examination – tests are not normally required), and get prescription medication to start treatment

  • Follow up with your GP for escalation of treatment if you’ve been using topical treatments for several weeks without noticing any improvements

Reviewed by:

Dr Rhianna McClymont

Lead GP at Livi

Last updated: