Rosacea is a long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face. It's more common in women and people with lighter skin, but symptoms can be worse in men. Treatment can help with symptoms.
Check if you have rosacea
The first signs of rosacea include
- redness (blushing) across your nose, cheeks, forehead and chin that comes and goes
- a burning or stinging feeling when using water or skincare products
The redness may be harder to see on darker skin.
Other symptoms can include:
- dry skin
- swelling, especially around the eyes
- yellow-orange patches on the skin
- sore eyelids or crusts around roots of eyelashes – this could be blepharitis
- thickened skin, mainly on the nose (usually appears after many years)
It's not known what causes rosacea, but some triggers can make symptoms worse. Common triggers for rosacea include:
- spicy foods
- hot drinks
- aerobic exercise like running
If you're not sure it's rosacea
Check what else it could be?
Rosacea can look a lot like other conditions, such as:
- contact dermatitis, seborrhoeic dermatitis and other types of dermatitis
- keratosis pilaris
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you think you have symptoms of rosacea
Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111:
If you have rosacea and:
- your eye is painful
- your vision is blurred
- you're sensitive to light
- you have a red eye
- your eye feels gritty
These could be signs of keratitis, which can be serious if not treated urgently.
Treatment for rosacea from a GP
Rosacea cannot be cured but treatment from a GP can help control the symptoms. It can get worse if it's not treated.
A GP may suggest:
- prescriptions for creams and gels you put on your skin
- taking antibiotics for 6 to 16 weeks
- IPL (intense pulsed light) treatment – this may not be available on the NHS
The GP may refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist) if treatments are not working.
Things you can do to help
Rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene and it's not contagious. But there are things you can try to help with symptoms.
If you know that a trigger, for example alcohol or spicy food, makes symptoms worse, try to avoid it as much as possible.
wear a high SPF sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day
try to avoid heat, sunlight or humid conditions if possible
try to cover your face in cold weather
use gentle skincare products for sensitive skin
clean your eyelids at least once a day if you have blepharitis
take steps to manage stress
do not drink alcohol
do not have hot drinks
do not have too much caffeine (found in tea, coffee and chocolate)
do not eat cheese
do not eat spicy food
do not do too much aerobic exercise, like running
Find out more
The charity Changing Faces can offer advice and support if you're feeling anxious or depressed.
Call the helpline on 0300 012 0275.
Page last reviewed: 15 January 2020
Next review due: 15 January 2023