Rosacea is a common skin condition that usually affects the skin on your face. It can look different depending on what type you have and how severe it is.
There are four main kinds of rosacea. Some cases involve general redness on the face. Another causes pus-filled pimples or solid red bumps. Others can affect the eyes or even cause skin deformities.
Which rosacea treatment is best? It depends on your symptoms and where they occur.
In people with fair skin tones, rosacea causes redness on the face—especially the nose, chin, forehead and cheeks. In people with darker skin tones, it creates areas of darker skin or a dusky brown coloring. It can also present on the scalp, eyes, back and chest.
In the early stages, it may look like blushing or flushing that comes and goes. It can also look like a blush or sunburn that doesn’t go away. Sometimes, you can see small visible blood vessels on the face or under the skin.
Symptoms can intensify over time. Without treatment, it can cause solid red bumps and pus-filled pimples. The skin can sometimes feel tight or dry along with an itching, stinging or burning sensation. It can also cause the nose to become lumpy and swollen (rhinophyma).
Rosacea can also affect the eyes. This causes irritation along with a bloodshot, watery appearance. This is known as ocular rosacea.
It’s important to know what type of rosacea you have so you can get the most effective treatment.
Erythematotelangiectatic: This involves general redness or flushing in the central part of the face. (The cheeks, nose and middle forehead.) It may involve other parts of the body. But it rarely affects the eyes. You might also notice small blood vessels under the skin. This type is commonly treated with topical creams or gels.
Papulopustular: Patients experience pustules (pus-filled pimples) or papules (small, solid bumps). In severe cases, it can cause long-term swelling. This type usually benefits from a topical antibacterial cream combined with oral antibiotics.
Phymatous: With this kind of rosacea, men (more than women) may have thickened skin and large pores on the ears, nosechin or forehead. It may also create skin deformities. The medication Ivermectin can help. But surgery to remove extra tissue may be required, too.
Ocular: This causes eye irritation, burning, stinging or feeling like you have something in your eye. The eyes might look watery or bloodshot. It can also lead to styes or vision problems. Artificial tears and lid care are an important part of treatment.
The right rosacea treatment will depend on symptoms and severity. Some people can manage their symptoms by avoiding triggers and following a sensitive skin care routine. Others need topical rosacea medicine to control flushing or outbreaks.
Topical treatments are commonly combined with oral medications to help get symptoms under control. Rosacea pills can help with moderate or severe bumps or pimples.
Common topical treatments include:
Common oral treatments include:
Other treatments include:
There are steps you can take at home to help keep symptoms under control.
You can also treat mild redness with color correcting tinted moisturizers that have a green-colored base. Be sure to apply your topical treatment first, then your sunscreen. The best makeup for rosacea will cover redness, contain sunscreen and have no fragrance. Put this on last.
Without treatment, rosacea can cause permanent redness, skin thickening or eye problems. Dr. B offers trusted prescription treatments for rosacea. Connect with a board-certified medical provider to find out which treatment is right for you.
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Farshchian, M. et al. (2022). Rosacea. StatPearls.
Kang, C. N., et al. (2021). Rosacea: An update in diagnosis, classification and management. Skin therapy letter, 26(4), 1–8.
Keri, J. E. (2022, February). Rosacea - Dermatologic Disorders. Merck Manuals Professional Edition. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
Rivero, A. L., et al. (2018). An update on the treatment of rosacea. Australian Prescriber. 41(1), 20–24.