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A chronic dermatitis characterized by redness, flushing, pustules and papules on the face.

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(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Rosacea

Red patches of skin on your face, and tiny visible blood vessels and spots — these can be quite common symptoms. They may be caused by rosacea, a common facial skin inflammation.

Skin diseases can be difficult to cope with, and they often affect people's self-confidence and wellbeing. But if you have rosacea, there is a lot you can do on your own.


Rosacea is a non-contagious inflammation of the skin on the face which can last for many years. It often develops into a rash, with papules and pustules (red and yellow pimples) and spidery red veins. It comes and goes in bouts. Sometimes the symptoms get worse and sometimes they get better or go away on their own... Read more about Rosacea

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Treatments for rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin condition causing flushing, redness, red pimples and pustules on the face, and should not be confused with acne. Dilated blood vessels may appear near the surface of the skin (telangiectasia). It can also cause inflammation of the eyes or eyelids, or both (ocular rosacea). Some people can develop a thickening of the skin, especially of the nose (rhinophyma). Although the cause of rosacea remains unclear, a wide variety of treatments are available for this persistent (chronic) and recurring and often distressing disease. These include medications applied directly to the skin (topical), oral medications and light‐based therapies. We wanted to discover how people assessed their treatments: if the treatments changed their quality of life, if they saw changes in their condition and if there were side effects. From the doctors, we wanted to discover whether treatments changed the severity of rosacea, as well as how long it took before symptoms reduced and reappeared.

Azelaic acid in the treatment of papulopustular rosacea: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

The authors concluded that topical azelaic acid was an effective treatment for papulopustular rosacea, and was as effective as metronidazole. This was generally a well-conducted review. However, the conclusion about the relative efficacy of azelaic acid and metronidazole was not based on studies included in this review, and its reliability is therefore unclear.

Educational interventions to improve quality of life in people with chronic inflammatory skin diseases: systematic reviews of clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness

The study found that there is uncertainty over whether or not educational interventions that address issues that could improve health-related quality of life in people with chronic skin conditions are effective. Tentative conclusions about the best approach to deliver these kinds of interventions are that face-to-face group sessions may be beneficial; however, text messages may also be effective. Delivery over a period of time and by a multidisciplinary team may also be associated with positive outcomes. There is uncertainty over whether or not educational interventions are cost-effective. Priorities for research are high-quality, adequately powered randomised controlled trials that evaluate theory-based interventions and include an adequate long-term follow-up in all chronic inflammatory skin conditions.

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Summaries for consumers

Rosacea diary

One way to find out what is causing rosacea outbreaks is to keep a diary for a few weeks or months. Here you can find a diary that you can print for your own use: You can use a rosacea diary to keep track of the following things: What cosmetic products did you use on your face today? Did you use your medication today? NoYes – If yes: what medication? How severe is your rosacea today? No symptomsMild symptomsSevere outbreak Getting betterNo changesGetting worse

Avoiding and treating rosacea

If you avoid rosacea triggers, you may be able to prevent outbreaks of inflammation. The condition can be treated with creams or gels, and by taking medication. Rosacea is a common, often chronic inflammation of facial skin. It causes red patches of skin on your face, tiny visible blood vessels and spots, which come and go. Over time, people often discover that certain things trigger their outbreaks. These might include certain foods, alcohol, cosmetics or medications, but different people often have different triggers. Sunlight also plays a role. Although the effects of sunlight on rosacea symptoms vary from person to person, sunburn is hard on your skin and may even harm it.

Which rosacea medications are proven to be effective?

Skin creams containing metronidazole or azelaic acid can help relieve the symptoms of rosacea like skin redness. The same is probably true for medications containing the antibiotic doxycycline.

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Terms to know

Redness of the skin.
A small, solid, raised bump on the skin that has a border with edges that are easy to see. Papules may be red, purple, brown, or pink.
Pustules (Pimples)
A pimple filled with pus.
Rhinophyma is a large, bulbous, ruddy nose commonly due to untreated rosacea.

More about Rosacea

Photo of an adult

Also called: Acne rosacea

Other terms to know: See all 4
Erythema, Papules, Pustules (Pimples)

Related articles:
Rosacea Diary

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