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Rosacea can make your facial skin red, irritated or bumpy with spots. It can be effectively managed with prescription medicines such as Mirvaso, Soolantra, Finacea and Rozex. Start a 2 minute consultation and order online today with Dr F

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Virginia Chachati

Reviewed by Virginia Chachati MPharm
(2013, University College London)
GPhC Registration number: 2087654

Information last reviewed 01/07/2021

About

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a condition which affects your facial skin. It causes flushing, redness and sometimes small pus-filled spots or bumps. Rosacea can affect anyone at any age.

What causes rosacea?

The causes of rosacea are still not known. Redness and flushing of the skin in rosacea may be caused by blood vessels with a tendency to dilate too easily.

The different types of rosacea

There are four different types of rosacea: erythematotelangiectatic, papulopustular, rhinophyma and ocular. Type one, erythematotelangiectatic, is the most common form of rosacea and the facial skin looks flushed and red. Papulopustular rosacea is where acne-like spots break out on the face. These are small, pus-filled pimples. Rhinophyma is rare, affecting the nasal area and causing the skin to thicken. Ocular rosacea is found in or around the eyes, and causes redness, burning and stinging. While these are four different types of rosacea, it is possible to experience more than one at the same time. 

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

The symptoms of rosacea are: 

  • Facial flushing 
  • Redness 
  • Red, bumpy skin
  • Small clusters of pimples 
  • Visible blood vessels 

It may make your skin feel like it is burning or itching. Your skin might feel irritated or have dry, rough patches.

How is rosacea diagnosed?

Your doctor will be able to diagnose rosacea by taking a look at your skin. They may ask you about your lifestyle and if you have any other skin problems or allergies. A blood test or biopsy cannot diagnose rosacea but it may be used to check for other health problems. 

Rosacea triggers

There are some known rosacea triggers. Rosacea is a long term condition and can get better or worse, often flaring up in response to a trigger. Common rosacea triggers include: 

  • Stress
  • Sunlight
  • Hot weather
  • Cold weather
  • Hot drinks
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol 
  • Strong winds
  • High intensity exercise 
  • Hot water
  • Spicy food
  • Dairy products
  • Menopause
  • Emotional responses such as blushing

While these are a list of possibilities, they won't necessarily affect every individual with rosacea. It may be that only a few of these things will trigger your symptoms. Try to take the time to find out which triggers affect you.

How long does rosacea last for?

Rosacea is a long term condition. It can result in regular flare ups in between periods of invisibility. Many people will have rosacea for life.

Treatment

Rosacea treatment options

There are many options for treating rosacea. These include Mirvaso gel, Soolantra, Finacea or Rozex. These all come as creams or gels you can apply directly onto your skin. For severe or persistent rosacea, an oral antibiotics treatment course can be prescribed for 4 to 6 weeks. If your symptoms are triggered by stress, speak to your doctor for further advice.

How to prevent rosacea?

You can prevent rosacea by regularly using prescription treatments or avoiding triggers. Getting a prescribed treatment, such as Mirvaso gel, helps clear skin redness and spots associated with rosacea. You could also try Soolantra, Rozex or Finacea gel from Dr Felix.

Identifying what is triggering your rosacea is another way to manage your skin. Keeping a diary is a useful way to narrow down triggers. Common triggers include: 

  • Caffeine 
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy food
  • Dairy 
  • Cold weather
  • Hot weather 
  • Hot water 
  • Stress 
  • Exercise 
  • Direct sunlight

Dietary changes to help rosacea

Avoiding foods which are known to trigger rosacea can help prevent your skin from becoming inflamed. Spicy foods, dairy products, refined sugars and white flour are common culprits. Cutting down on processed foods is also recommended. These triggers may not affect everyone in the same way. Keep a food diary to track what you're eating, and when your rosacea flares up, to help identify triggers.

Home treatments for rosacea

There are several home remedies which can help to ease the skin inflammation caused by rosacea. Aloe Vera gel is a natural moisturiser with emollient qualities and feels soothing on the skin. Chamomile has a similar calming effect. A simple way to reap the benefits of it is to apply a cold chamomile tea bag to areas of inflamed skin. Green tea can also be used in this way. Rich in antioxidants, research has shown that its antioxidant properties are effective against rosacea. Additional household ingredients that can help are lavender oil, honey, oatmeal and turmeric. 

What skincare products to use and avoid if you have rosacea?

If you have rosacea, use a high factor SPF sunscreen daily to protect your skin. There are combination skincare products which contain SPF protection, soothing ingredients and are designed for sensitive skin too. Avoid creams which are thick or oil-based to prevent breakouts of pimples or spots. Products that contain exfoliants that are abrasive can be harsh on the skin and make rosacea worse.

Make-up tips for rosacea

Treatment for rosacea will usually take a few weeks before you notice an improvement in your skin. Makeup provides an instant solution to disguising the redness caused by rosacea. Start by cleansing with gentle products. Gently rinse and pat your skin dry to avoid any irritation. Use a light moisturiser and SPF protection. A green tinted base will balance out the redness and leave a smooth, clear complexion to work with. Look for foundations and concealers that are oil-free, applying with a good quality brush as using your fingers can transfer excess oils to the face. Mineral makeup is a good option as it does not contain any potentially harsh ingredients.

Living with rosacea

While rosacea is not harmful for your health, it is a long term condition that you can learn to manage. Treatments are available to help you to reduce the appearance of rosacea. These include creams, which usually take up to 8 weeks to take effect and oral antibiotics which may be given for more severe rosacea. If this doesn't work, then you may be referred to a dermatologist for specialist advice. 

There are steps you can take to help reduce the appearance of rosacea or avoid making it worse. Try to wear SPF 30 sunscreen or higher when you go out in the sun. Use gentle face cleansing products. Avoid perfumed products which can irritate your skin. Acne treatments can help manage your skin too. Try to adjust your lifestyle to avoid triggers for rosacea. 

Should I continue to use Mirvaso after the symptoms have disappeared?

Mirvaso Gel should be used continuously to reduce and soothe redness and other symptoms of rosacea. If you stop using it your symptoms may return.

Q&A

Can rosacea be contagious?

Rosacea is not contagious. A person with rosacea cannot pass it on to another person.

Is rosacea genetic?

There is some research that suggests rosacea may be genetic but this is not known for sure. People who have family members that have rosacea are more likely to develop rosacea too. The exact cause of rosacea is not known and there are many factors which can contribute.

Is rosacea infectious?

Rosacea is not infectious. It is an inflammatory skin condition caused by dilated blood vessels. You cannot give rosacea to someone else by touching them.

Who suffers from rosacea?

Rosacea is more common in women, people with fair skin and those over the age of 40 years old. However, it can affect anyone at any age. If you have sensitive skin, allergies or an existing long-term condition, then you may be more likely to suffer from rosacea.

What is ocular rosacea?

Ocular rosacea affects the eyes. It causes redness, stinging, burning, itching and dryness of the eyes. You may also experience blurred vision, swollen eyelids, sensitivity to light and feeling like there is something in your eye. Ocular rosacea often accompanies facial rosacea or can come up first before it spreads to the face.

Does rosacea get worse with age?

Rosacea can get worse with age, particularly if it is not identified and treated early on. It is more likely to develop between the ages of 40 to 60 years old.

Can rosacea lead to other conditions?

Studies have found that people who have rosacea may be more likely to develop other conditions later in life. These may include illnesses of a cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological or autoimmune nature. However, more research is needed to determine a solid link.

Is rosacea painful?

Rosacea is not normally painful. Your skin may feel sensitive, irritated or dry during bouts of rosacea, but it should not be painful unless you experience ocular rosacea. Ocular rosacea affects the eyes and can feel very uncomfortable.

Can children develop rosacea?

It is rare for children to develop rosacea. It may appear as facial flushing that lasts longer than it should, but it can also be mistaken for a different type of rash. If you have rosacea, it may be a good idea to monitor your child for signs of the skin condition.

Can you have rosacea with acne?

Rosacea can be mistaken for acne but the two conditions are different. One subtype of rosacea produces acne-like spots. These are clusters of small pimples which often accompany redness of the skin. Acne spots are usually bigger and produce whiteheads and blackheads. A doctor can diagnose which skin condition you have so that you can be treated for it effectively. 

How does menopause affect rosacea?

Women going through menopause may notice their rosacea getting worse. This is due to hot flushes and hormonal changes. If you experience mood changes, speak to your doctor about the best way to manage them. Regulating your mood can calm inflammation associated with rosacea.

Is Rosacea linked to other conditions?

A study published in the American Journal of Dermatology found evidence that people with rosacea are more likely to develop an autoimmune condition. However, the results didn't provide any clear evidence or links to specific conditions.

Do allergies contribute to rosacea?

If you have an allergy that causes a skin reaction, this can make rosacea worse as it will trigger your immune system to respond. This causes additional symptoms and inflammation. Avoiding contact with allergens, such as pollen or certain products, will help to reduce your chance of triggering rosacea.

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