Last Edited: April 10th, 2012

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Rosacea is a common skin condition that is poorly understood. The National Rosacea Society has estimated that over 16 million adults have rosacea. Since rosacea causes the skin to become excessively red and produces numerous red bumps or pustules on the skin, this skin disease is also referred to as adult acne. If the condition remains untreated, it can have a detrimental effect on the self-esteem of those affected by it.

Types of Rosacea and Symptoms

Papulopustular rosacea, erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, ocular rosacea and phymatous rosacea are the four main subtypes of rosacea. Papulopustular rosacea causes symptoms that are similar in nature to acne, including swelling, pustules and redness. Flushing, blood vessels that are highly visible on the skin and redness characterize erythematotelangiectatic rosacea.

The eyes are affected in ocular rosacea, which causes swollen eyelids, eyes that are red, watery or irritated, and blurry vision. The skin of individuals with phymatous rosacea is often thickened and has a bumpy or rough texture.

Phases of Rosacea

Rosacea has three phases: pre-rosacea, vascular rosacea and inflammatory rosacea. During the pre-rosacea phase, the person will typically have the tendency to blush easily. This quickly progresses to continuous redness in the middle of the face, especially around the nose. The persistent redness is caused by the dilation of the skin's blood vessels.

When rosacea has progressed to the vascular phase, the skin tends to look swollen and feels warm to the touch. The blood vessels are also more noticeable through the skin as they continue to enlarge. The skin also becomes oilier during this phase and increasingly sensitive, resulting in a burning or stinging sensation.

Small, red bumps and pimples occur during the inflammatory stage of rosacea. These pustules and bumps are especially prominent on the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin.


It is not fully known what causes rosacea to develop, although it is believed that the skin condition occurs as a result of environmental and genetic factors. A variety of factors can cause rosacea flare-ups or worsen symptoms, including spicy foods, sunlight, stress, using corticosteroids, hot beverages, extremes in temperature, exercise and taking a hot bath.

Risk Factors

Although rosacea can affect anyone, there are several instances in which an individual may be more likely to develop the condition, including the following:

  • Family history of rosacea
  • Fair skin, hair, and eyes that are light in color
  • Menopausal women
  • People between the ages of 30 and 50
  • Individuals with acne-prone skin


While rosacea cannot be eliminated, there are numerous treatments that help to manage symptoms and flare-ups. The most common treatment for rosacea are creams, lotions and gels that are applied directly to the affected areas, oral antibiotics and Isotretinoin.

Steroid eye drops are often prescribed for the treatment of ocular rosacea. Daily use of a sunscreen is recommended to prevent flare-ups. A dermatologist may also recommend specific cleansers or moisturizers. Light treatments and lasers can reduce skin redness and make blood vessels less visible.