Rosacea causes a range of symptoms, although not everyone will experience them all.

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

The main symptoms of rosacea include:

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

These are discussed in more detail below.

Other symptoms associated with rosacea include:

  • sensitive skin – burning, itching, stinging and pain
  • dry, rough skin
  • raised red patches (plaques) on your skin
  • facial swelling (lymphoedema)

Permanent damage to the face (scarring) almost never occurs in rosacea.

Flushing

Flushing is when your skin turns red for a short period – usually a few minutes. It tends to mainly affect the face, although it can spread to your neck and chest.

In some cases the redness may be accompanied by an unpleasant feeling of heat.

In rosacea flushing is often caused by a certain trigger, such as sun exposure, hot drinks or exercise. See causes of rosacea for more information about possible triggers.

Persistent facial redness

Persistent facial redness (erythema) is like a blush or a patch of sunburn that doesn't go away, or the sort of blotchy skin often associated with drinking too much alcohol.

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

The redness usually affects the cheeks, nose and chin, but may spread to other areas, such as the forehead, neck and chest.

Visible blood vessels

Over time the blood vessels in the skin may become permanently widened (dilated) and visible. The medical name for visible blood vessels is telangiectasia.

Papules and pustules

If you have rosacea, you may develop round red bumps that rise from your skin (papules) and pus-filled swellings (pustules).

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

In rosacea there are no blackheads and the skin is not greasy, but dry and peeling. Rosacea spots also don't 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 (rhinophyma).

Rhinophyma is an uncommon, severe symptom of rosacea and takes several years to develop. It almost exclusively affects men.

Page last reviewed: 08/07/2016

Next review due: 08/07/2019