Conditions & Treatments

Rosacea

Characterized by redness, pimples and broken blood vessels, rosacea is a common skin condition that usually only affects the face and eyes.

Rosacea

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a common chronic skin condition that usually only affects the face and eyes. Characterized by redness, pimples, and broken blood vessels, rosacea tends to begin after middle age (between the ages of 30 and 60) and is more common in fair-skinned people and women in menopause. 

The cause of rosacea is unknown. An estimated more than 14 million people in the U.S. have rosacea.

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

Rosacea often begins with easy blushing and flushing of the facial skin. Eventually, redness will persist around the nose area, extending to the rest of the face. Rosacea has a variety of clinical symptoms and is classified into the following four types, based on these different symptoms:

Type

Symptoms

Prerosacea

Frequent episodes of blushing and flushing of the face and neck

Vascular rosacea

Swelling of blood vessels under the facial skin, leading to swollen, warm skin (common in women)

Inflammatory rosacea

Formation of pimples and enlarged blood vessels on the face

Rhinophyma

Enlarged oil glands in the nose and cheeks that cause an enlarged, bulbous red nose (common in men)

In addition, rosacea often affects the eye and eyelid. Eye symptoms may include:

  • Redness

  • Burning

  • Tearing

  • Inflamed eyelids

  • Sensation of a foreign object in the eye

The symptoms of rosacea may resemble other dermatologic conditions, such as acne. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is rosacea diagnosed?

Rosacea is usually diagnosed with a complete medical history and physical examination.

Treatment for rosacea

Specific treatment for rosacea will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the rash

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the rash

  • Your opinion or preference

The goal of treatment is to control the symptoms associated with rosacea. Treatment may include:

  • Diet modifications (for example, avoiding foods that dilate the skin's blood vessels, such as caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol)

  • Topical and oral antibiotics

  • Glycolic acid peels

  • Cortisone cream

  • Laser therapy

  • Dermabrasion

  • Electrosurgery

Management

If you have been diagnosed with rosacea, you can help manage the condition by:

  • Keeping a record of triggers, such as stress, weather, or certain foods or drinks

  • Always using a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and has a sun-protecting factor (SPF) of 15 or higher

  • Being careful not to use any irritating products on your face 

  • Taking your medications as prescribed 

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Department of Dermatology

  • Dermatology Laser and Cosmetic Center
    The Massachusetts General Hospital Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center in Boston offers laser skin resurfacing, laser hair and tattoo removal, skin tightening, dermal fillers, and body contouring. Our center has more than 30 different lasers on-site allowing us to offer personalized services for virtually any skin condition.
  • The Medical Dermatology Program
    The Medical Dermatology program at Massachusetts General Hospital is a full-service dermatology practice that provides care for all skin, hair and nail conditions.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

  • Laser Surgery Program
    The Massachusetts General Hospital Laser Surgery Program offers a variety of noninvasive laser treatments for facial rejuvenation that can improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars, sun damage, puffy eyes, and broken blood vessels, and treat skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.

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