Clinical Derma



Rosacea is a chronic skin condition characterized by facial redness and visible blood vessels, often worsened by environmental and lifestyle triggers. The exact cause is unknown, but it may be linked to vascular abnormalities, immune responses, skin barrier dysfunction, and gut bacteria like Helicobacter pylori. Genetics can also play a role, along with factors like sun exposure, diet, stress, and certain medications. It typically affects middle-aged women with fair skin but can occur in anyone. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms and avoiding identified triggers, and the disease’s underlying mechanisms are a topic of ongoing research.


Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition often characterized by flushing, redness, and visible blood vessels in the face. The symptoms can come and go, but they often become more persistent and severe over time if not managed properly. The exact cause of rosacea remains unknown; however, several contributing factors have been identified.

Clinical factors:

  1. Vascular abnormalities: Changes in the facial blood vessels, including their enlargement, can cause persistent redness and visible blood vessels.
  2. Immune system response: Some studies suggest an abnormal immune response can cause inflammation in the skin, leading to rosacea. This could be due to a reaction to a microscopic mite commonly found on the skin called Demodex folliculorum, or a protein called cathelicidin.
  3. Skin barrier dysfunction: A compromised skin barrier can lead to increased water loss and penetration of potential irritants, which may contribute to rosacea.
  4. Helicobacter pylori bacteria: This bacteria found in the gut may play a role in rosacea, potentially by increasing the production of the skin-vasodilating compound gastrin.

Non-Clinical Factors:

  1. Genetics: Rosacea appears to run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition. However, the specific genes involved aren’t currently known.
  2. Environmental triggers: Numerous environmental factors can exacerbate rosacea, including sun exposure, hot or cold weather, wind, and humidity.
  3. Lifestyle triggers: Spicy foods, alcohol (especially red wine), caffeine, stress, vigorous exercise, and certain medications can cause flare-ups in some people.
  4. Demographic factors: Rosacea most often affects middle-aged women with fair skin, but it can occur in people of any age and skin type.

It’s important to note that while we have identified these potential factors, the exact interplay between them remains a topic of ongoing research. Each individual may have a unique combination of causes, and treatment typically involves managing symptoms and avoiding identified triggers. It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider for a comprehensive approach to managing rosacea.


  1. Facial redness: Persistent redness (erythema) in the central part of the face, particularly the cheeks and nose.
  2. Swollen red bumps: Many people with rosacea also develop pimples on their face that resemble acne.
  3. Eye problems: Many people with rosacea experience dry, irritated, swollen eyes and red, swollen eyelids—a condition known as ocular rosacea.
  4. Enlarged nose: In severe cases, particularly in men, the oil glands in the nose and cheeks can become enlarged, leading to a buildup of tissue on and around the nose—a condition known as rhinophyma.

Rosacea symptoms often begin as episodes of flushing, but as the condition progresses, other symptoms such as persistent redness, visible blood vessels, and pimples may develop.

Diagnosis of Rosacea:

The diagnosis of rosacea is generally made based on the patient’s symptoms and clinical examination. There is no specific test to diagnose rosacea. A dermatologist will typically examine the skin and the eyes, and ask about the patient’s medical history. The presence of one or more of the primary signs (flushing, nontransient erythema, papules and pustules, and telangiectasia) may indicate rosacea.

It’s also important to rule out other conditions that can mimic rosacea, such as acne, lupus, seborrheic dermatitis, or perioral dermatitis. Sometimes, additional tests may be performed to rule out these other conditions, including skin biopsies, skin scrapings, or blood tests.

Prognosis and Impact


The prognosis of rosacea is generally good, particularly if treatment is started early in the course of the disease. It’s important to note that rosacea is a relapsing condition, meaning it has periods of flare-ups and remissions. The condition might worsen with time if left untreated, leading to more severe symptoms and potential complications such as rhinophyma (an enlarged, bulbous red nose) or ocular rosacea, which can lead to serious eye complications if not managed promptly. However, with appropriate management, most people with rosacea are able to control their symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.


The impact of rosacea often extends beyond the physical symptoms. The visible signs of rosacea can cause significant psychological, social, and occupational problems if not adequately managed. Some people with rosacea report feelings of low self-esteem, embarrassment, and frustration due to their skin condition. These emotional and social impacts are often under-recognized but can be addressed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

On a positive note, there are numerous treatment options available for rosacea, including topical medications, oral medications, laser treatments, and lifestyle modifications. Working with a dermatologist to find the best treatment approach for you can help to manage the symptoms and minimize the impact of rosacea on your daily life.

Treatment Options

  1. Topical treatments: These are often the first line of defense and include medications like metronidazole, azelaic acid, ivermectin, and brimonidine, which can reduce redness and inflammation.
  2. Oral antibiotics: Oral antibiotics such as doxycycline, minocycline, or tetracycline may be used to reduce inflammation and treat the bumps and pimples often associated with rosacea.
  3. Oral acne drugs: For more severe cases, drugs like isotretinoin (Accutane) may be used, but this is typically reserved for severe or resistant cases due to its potential side effects.
  4. Laser and light therapies: Treatments like laser therapy or intense pulsed light (IPL) can help to reduce redness and visible blood vessels.
  5. Eye treatments: If rosacea affects your eyes (ocular rosacea), your doctor might suggest treatments like artificial tears, oral antibiotics, or steroid eye drops.
  6. Surgical interventions: In rare cases where rosacea has led to rhinophyma (enlarged nose), surgical methods such as dermabrasion, laser surgery, or electrosurgery may be used to reshape the nose.

In addition to these treatments, it’s crucial to identify and avoid any potential triggers for rosacea flare-ups, which can include things like sunlight, stress, hot drinks, alcohol, spicy foods, and certain cosmetics. Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, using gentle skin care products, and keeping a diary of flare-ups to help identify triggers can be very beneficial.

Risks and Side Effects

  1. Topical treatments: Topical treatments such as metronidazole, azelaic acid, and ivermectin may cause skin irritation, dryness, itching, or stinging. Brimonidine, used to reduce redness, can cause skin redness to worsen if it’s used too frequently or over the long term.
  2. Oral antibiotics: These can cause stomach upset, and long-term use can lead to antibiotic resistance and potential yeast infections. Moreover, doxycycline can make you more sensitive to the sun.
  3. Oral acne drugs: Isotretinoin, while effective, is generally reserved for severe cases due to its potential side effects. These can include dry skin, nosebleeds, muscle aches, and mood changes. It can also cause severe birth defects, so it’s not given to pregnant women or women who plan to become pregnant.
  4. Laser and light therapies: These can cause temporary discomfort, redness, bruising, blistering, and, in rare cases, skin lightening or darkening.
  5. Eye treatments: Artificial tears can sometimes cause eye irritation. Oral antibiotics and steroid eye drops can have the same potential side effects as when these are used for skin symptoms.
  6. Surgical interventions: As with any surgical procedure, there are risks of infection, scarring, and changes in skin color.

In addition to these, it’s also important to mention that avoiding known triggers for rosacea—like sunlight, stress, hot drinks, alcohol, spicy foods, and certain cosmetics—is a crucial part of managing the condition, although the “side effects” here mostly involve figuring out which lifestyle changes you need to make and sticking to them

FAQ Section

What causes rosacea? 

The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, but it’s believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain triggers such as sun exposure, stress, hot or cold weather, spicy foods, alcohol, and certain skin products can cause it to flare up.


Who is most likely to get rosacea? 

While rosacea can affect anyone, it most commonly affects middle-aged women with fair skin. There may also be a genetic component as it often runs in families.


Can rosacea be cured? 

While there’s currently no cure for rosacea, it can be effectively managed with treatments such as topical medications, oral antibiotics, and lifestyle modifications to reduce flare-ups


Does rosacea get worse with age? 

Without treatment, rosacea can progressively worsen over time. However, with proper management, it’s possible to control the symptoms and prevent it from getting worse.


Is rosacea contagious? 

No, rosacea is not contagious. You cannot catch rosacea from someone else, and you cannot pass it on to others.


Can I wear makeup if I have rosacea? 

Yes, you can wear makeup. However, it’s important to choose non-irritating products. Mineral makeup may be a good option as it contains fewer irritants.


Can rosacea cause health problems beyond skin issues? 

Rosacea is primarily a skin condition, but it can also affect the eyes causing a condition called ocular rosacea, which can lead to dry, irritated, and red eyes.


How can I find out what triggers my rosacea? 

Keeping a diary of when your symptoms flare up can help identify potential triggers. Common triggers include sun exposure, stress, hot or cold weather, spicy foods, and alcohol.


Will my rosacea ever go away? 

Rosacea is a chronic condition and, while it may have periods of remission, it typically does not go away completely on its own. However, symptoms can be effectively managed with treatment and lifestyle modifications.


Does rosacea have a psychological impact? 

Yes, the visible symptoms of rosacea can affect self-esteem and mental health. It’s important to discuss these aspects with your healthcare provider so that a comprehensive treatment plan can be put in place.


  1. Two A.M., et al. (2015). “Rosacea: part I. Introduction, categorization, histology, pathogenesis, and risk factors.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 
  2. Wilkin J, et al. (2002). “Standard classification of rosacea: Report of the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee on the Classification and Staging of Rosacea.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
  3. Two A.M., et al. (2015). “Rosacea: part II. Topical and systemic therapies in the treatment of rosacea.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 
  4. Gallo RL, et al. (2018). “Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 
  5. Aksoy B, et al. (2015). “The impact of rosacea on quality of life: effects of demographic and clinical characteristics and various treatment modalities.” The British Journal of Dermatology.

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