Rosacea – Symptoms 

Symptoms of rosacea 

Rosacea is a common skin condition that mainly affects the face, causing redness and spots   

Symptoms of rosacea often vary. Although the condition has a number of common symptoms, not everyone will experience all possible symptoms.

Common symptoms include:

  • flushing
  • persistent redness
  • papules and pustules
  • visible blood vessels
  • thickened skin
  • eye irritation

These symptoms are explained below.

Flushing (transient redness)

Flushing (when your skin turns red) is usually the first sign of rosacea, often dating back to childhood or early teens. Episodes of flushing can last up to five minutes.

In adult life, flushing is often caused by rapid changes of body temperature. This can be caused, for example, by sun exposure, hot drinks or exercise.

The flush can spread to your neck and chest, and you may experience an unpleasant feeling of heat.

Persistent facial redness

Persistent facial redness is the most common sign of rosacea. This redness is like a blush or a patch of sunburn that does not go away, or the sort of blotchy skin often associated with drinking too much alcohol.

This can be upsetting for people with rosacea as people can mistakenly assume they are heavy drinkers.

The redness usually affects the cheeks, nose and chin but may spread on the forehead, neck and chest. The skin may sometimes appear dry, scaly or swollen.

Visible blood vessels

If you have rosacea, you may experience inflammation of small blood vessels in the surface of your skin.

This can cause your skin to appear red and eventually the vessels become permanently dilated and visible (thread veins). The medical name for visible blood vessels is telangiectasia.

Papules and pustules

If you have rosacea, you may develop:

  • papules  round red bumps that rise from your skin
  • pustules  pus-filled swellings

These spots will appear on your face and are similar to teenage acne. Rosacea used to be called 'acne-rosacea' but the two conditions are quite different.

In rosacea there are no blackheads (small blocked pores)and the skin is not greasy but dry and peeling. Rosacea spots also do not cause scarring.

Thickened skin

In the most serious cases of rosacea, the skin can thicken and form excess tissue, usually around the nose. This causes the nose to take on a large, bulbous appearance. This is known as rhinophyma.

Rhinophyma is a rare, extreme symptom of rosacea and takes several years to develop. When it does occur, it is usually more common in men than women.

Eye irritation

Over half of people with rosacea also experience symptoms that affect their eyes, such as:

  • feeling like there is something in your eyes
  • dry eyes
  • sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • irritated and bloodshot eyes, which often leads to related eye conditions such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids)

Read more information about complications of rosacea.

Rosacea that affects the eyes is known as ocular rosacea.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms associated with rosacea include:

  • a burning or stinging sensation on your face
  • dry, rough skin
  • raised red patches, known as plaques, on your skin
  • facial swelling
  • not being able to use cosmetics because your skin is sensitive to them

Most people with rosacea have periods when their symptoms are particularly troublesome, followed by periods where their symptoms are less problematic.

Permanent damage to the face, such as scarring, almost never occurs in rosacea.

Page last reviewed: 03/07/2012

Next review due: 03/07/2014


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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

spottyg said on 30 March 2013

I have had this for about a year now, but have just been diagnosed. I have a lot of the symptoms named above, but I also get a burning sensation on the tongue when eating and drinking certain things. Is this part of it or something else altogether?

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Joan1948 said on 03 March 2013

I think i have the symptoms of Rosacea.
For some time now as soon as i drink wine my face becomes flushed,all so recently when i go outside my face becomes flushed.
For 6 years i have been on inhalers due to my illness
C O P D could this allso be the reason i am having rhis reaction?

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