Complications of rosacea 

Rosacea can cause complications that affect you physically and psychologically.

Eye problems

Rosacea that affects your eyes (ocular rosacea) can lead to a number of eye problems, some of which can be serious.

In particular, rosacea can sometimes cause the cornea (the transparent layer at the front of the eyeball) to become inflamed and damaged. This is known as keratitis.

This damage can make the cornea vulnerable to ulceration and infection, which could potentially threaten your sight.

Symptoms of serious problems with your corneas include:

  • eye pain
  • sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • deterioration in your vision

Contact your GP immediately if you think you may have a problem with your corneas. If this is not possible, visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department.

If keratitis is not treated promptly by an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specialises in treating eye conditions), there is a risk of permanent vision loss.

Psychological and social effects

Any chronic (long-term) condition can have an adverse psychological effect, but rosacea can be particularly troublesome as it affects your appearance. This can change how you feel about yourself and how you interact with others.

Many people with rosacea have reported feelings of low self-esteem, embarrassment and frustration.

It is important to try to come to terms with the fact you have a chronic condition that, although incurable, is controllable. Persevering with your treatment plan and avoiding your individual triggers are the best ways of controlling your symptoms.

As your physical symptoms improve, you may start to feel better psychologically and emotionally.

If you have rosacea, take comfort knowing you are not alone. There are millions of people living with the condition in the UK and across the world. You can find support and information from organisations such as:

  • the National Rosacea Society – an American charity whose website has useful information and advice for people with rosacea
  • Changing Faces – a charity for people with facial disfigurements, who can be contacted on 0300 012 0275 for counselling and advice

Speak to your GP if you are feeling depressed as a result of your condition. They may recommend further treatment if necessary.

Page last reviewed: 10/07/2014

Next review due: 10/07/2016