Rosacea is a common but poorly understood long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face. It most commonly affects fair-skinned people from northern Europe and is estimated to affect up to one in 10 people. An expert explains what rosacea is, the symptoms to look out for and the various treatments.

Find out how rosacea is treated

Transcript of Rosacea

Rosacea is a condition affecting the skin of the face.

It typically affects the centre of the face,

the nose, the cheeks, the forehead and the chin

and occasionally it can go down onto the neck and shoulders.

It was probably about three years ago

I started to get really red skin

in the forehead and nose and chin area.

It affects women more than men

and typically it appears between the ages of 30 or 40,

however some people start to get the early signs in their 20s.

It would flush and then it would go away again

and it just gradually got worse

and then I started to get little hard lumps in my face.

The earliest symptoms of rosacea tend to be a flushing,

a tendency apparently to blush more frequently,

but then later on you'll get more severe symptoms

including a permanent flushing.

I started getting eye infections quite frequently.

My GP recognised that it was rosacea and he referred me to a dermatologist.

At the severe end of the spectrum of rosacea

there are a couple of problems that can be quite unpleasant for patients,

one of which is a thickening and swelling of the nose, called rhinophyma,

and the other one is dry, sore eyes and lid problems.

In both cases often a referral to a specialist is needed.

At the moment the cause of rosacea is a bit of a mystery.

There are lots of theories but not one that is definitely the case.

I didn't notice that it was when I was eating certain foods,

it was just constantly there.

It would go away for a little while and come back again.

There are a number of things that can trigger rosacea.

It depends from person to person,

so it's important to learn which are your triggers.

Very common ones include sun exposure,

so for example using a sun block may make a difference.

Also using alcohol or eating spicy foods may make a difference.

Being exposed to a lot of stress often causes a flare-up of rosacea,

as do temperature changes, going out in very cold weather or hot weather.

I always use a factor 50 on my face, I cover my whole face in it,

just because I did notice

when I was in the sun after I got diagnosed it was worse.

It's not a condition we can cure

but you can make a difference to people's symptoms.

For the early symptoms, particularly flushing,

it's mostly looking at avoiding the triggers that make it happen.

As you move on to things like spots,

we can use creams that go on the face

or you may be given antibiotics to be taken by mouth.

When you get more severe symptoms

you may be referred to a specialist for treatment,

including surgery for thickened skin.

(Vikki) My GP put me on antibiotics for it.

I took them for three months and it did go away again.

Some people try and treat their own rosacea

using medication available over the counter.

This is probably not wise

because often some of these medications can actually worsen the condition,

particularly things containing scents, oils and alcohol-based treatments.

I probably did the wrong thing at first

because my skin felt really tight with it, really tight and itchy.

I thought I could use all these really great products

just to try and sort my skin out

but probably using too many products was doing the wrong thing.

Sometimes people may be recommended to use cosmetics

to camouflage the appearance so that they feel less self-conscious.

Once I tried different make-ups and things,

trying to cover it up.

I thought that was probably my best option.

It makes you feel more positive when you can cover it up

and people don't even notice.

Often people with rosacea

find that they get quite low or even depressed because of the disease.

If you have that, don't suffer in silence.

Go along to your GP

because he can arrange for you to have psychological support and treatment.


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