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Rosacea is a red facial rash that most often affects those aged 30 to 60, especially those with fair skin, blue eyes and of Celtic origin. It may be transient, recurrent or persistent.

The cause of rosacea is unknown. There are several theories regarding the origin of overactive facial blood vessels and inflammation, including genetic, environmental, vascular, inflammatory factors.

Rosacea used to be called ‘acne rosacea’ but it is quite different from acne. There are red spots (papules) and sometimes pustules in both conditions, but in rosacea they are dome-shaped rather than pointed and there are no blackheads, whiteheads, deep cysts, or lumps. Rosacea may also result in reddened skin, scaling and swelling of affected areas.

Characteristics of rosacea include:

  • Red papules and sometimes pustules on the nose, forehead, cheeks and chin. Rarely it involves the trunk and upper limbs.
  • Frequent blushing or flushing
  • A red face due to persistent redness and/or telangiectasia (‘broken capillaries’)
  • Dry and flaky facial skin
  • Aggravation by sun exposure and hot and spicy food or drink (anything that reddens the face)
  • Sensitive skin: burning and stinging, especially with make-up, sunscreens and other facial creams
  • Red, sore or gritty eyelids including papules and styes (blepharitis and/or conjunctivitis)
  • Enlarged unshapely nose with prominent pores (sebaceous hyperplasia) and fibrous thickening (rhinophyma)
  • Firm swelling of other facial areas including the eyelids (blepharophyma)