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A Red Face Could Signal Rosacea

Most of us have seen someone with rosacea, a chronic skin condition that can cause facial redness, bumps, pimples, thick skin, and even bloodshot eyes. But we're often not sure just what we're seeing when we look this problem in the face.

About 14 million Americans, mostly ages 30 to 50, have rosacea to some degree, the National Rosacea Society estimates. Many people mistake the flushing and appearance of pimples as a recurrence of a skin condition from their teen years. Outbreaks on the cheeks and nose are common, but can also be seen on the forehead, neck, and back.

Researchers don’t know what causes rosacea. Risk factors include having fair skin that blushes easily. Any ethnic group can develop rosacea, although it is more common in persons of northern and western European descent with a fair complexion. Women are three times more likely to develop the disease, but men often have more severe symptoms. Over time, the redness of the skin becomes more noticeable and blood vessels may be seen. If untreated, progressive symptoms such as bumps and pimples may develop, and the nose may become swollen. Rarely, the eyes are involved.

The emotional impact for people with rosacea is high. A large percentage of people with this disease report anxiety, anger, and depression. Stress plays a big role in recurrence and worsening of symptoms. Hence, the cycle of symptoms and frustration makes this disease seem hopeless to many. Although rosacea has no cure, effect treatments are available. Talk with your health care provider to find out which treatment is best for you.

Treatment includes avoiding triggers, including stressful situations, washing skin with mild soap and tepid or cool water, using moisturizers, drinking cool water, and using a cool towel on the face after working out. Prescription gels, creams, lotions, and antibiotics can help. Doctors use lasers and other light therapy to treat some forms of rosacea. Always check your insurance coverage, as some procedures may be considered cosmetic.


Online Medical Reviewer: Jones, Niya, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Petersen, Sheralee, MPAS, PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 1/17/2013
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