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Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Rosacea is a common condition that causes redness on the cheeks and across the nose, and is sometimes accompanied by more persistent red bumps, known as papules or pustules if they have a yellow center. Its full name is actually acne rosacea. Episodes of flushing may precede a more persistent redness.

Certain triggers are thought to cause blood vessels just under the skin to widen, becoming more visible and causing the redness, but the underlying cause is not well understood. It is common in those aged 30 to 60, and in fair-skinned/blue-eyed people. The exact cause remains unknown, but triggers for its development include sun damage, leaky tiny blood vessels under the skin, a skin mite called Demodex folliculorum, and a family history of rosacea. It is not contagious, so you cannot catch it from someone else.

Doctor’s advice

What can I do to help?

It's a good idea to keep note of any potential causes. Common triggers include alcohol, stress, strenuous exercise, hot or cold weather, sunlight, hot drinks, caffeine, foods (particularly spicy foods), steroid creams, and certain medications. Some people complain of a condition alongside called blepharitis, where eyes become inflamed, sore, dry, and watery.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

Exposure to sunlight, which can trigger flushing, can be managed by using sunscreen or alternatively by wearing makeup containing SPF 30.

Skincare is a good way to start small, ensuring the skin is clean and moisturized adequately. You could also try using water-based makeup (if you do wear it), so it is easier to remove without needing alcohol-based cleansers that can irritate the skin.

Stress as a trigger can be managed by getting the right amount of sleep, taking regular low-intensity exercise, and eating a healthy balanced diet.

If your skin is dry, using hypoallergenic or mild emollients may help to relieve the symptoms. Some people find using coconut oil or aloe vera helpful. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and also contains lauric acid, which soothes the skin.

Am I fit for work?

You are fit for work if you have rosacea.

When should I see my doctor?

You should book a routine appointment with your doctor to confirm the diagnosis and discuss possible treatments. They will consider your symptoms, likely triggers, and examine you. Treatments may include gels or creams, and they may consider other treatments, such as certain oral antibiotics, to reduce inflammation.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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