Rosacea Essentials Guide: Types, Causes, Treatment and Home Remedies

Rosacea can be embarrassing and frustrating because in a flash, your skin can flare up with intense redness or flushing. This redness most commonly appears on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead affecting mostly adults.

Anxiety and depression is not uncommon if you are experiencing rosacea. You may worry that it can get worse or leave scars on your face resulting in low self-esteem or lead to drinking problems or substance abuse.

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition with the cause of rosacea being unknown with no known cure. People with rosacea can manage and minimize symptoms with home remedies or medications.

The symptoms of rosacea depend on the type. There are four subtypes of rosacea with each having different signs and symptoms.

Rosacea flare-ups may include small, red, pus-filled bumps or redness on the nose, cheeks and forehead. These may occur on and off that may come and go away in a short or long cycle.

Types of rosacea

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, rosacea is categorized into four different subtypes, each with different symptoms. Types and symptoms of rosacea include:

  • Subtype 1 - erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR) is associated with the following signs and symptoms:
  1. Flushing and redness around cheeks, nose and forehead
  2. Spider veins that show as visible broken blood vessels
  3. Swollen skin
  4. Sensitive skin, with possible stinging and burning
  5. Dry rough skin or scaling
  6. Flushing or easily blushing tendency
  • Subtype 2 - papulopustular (or acne) rosacea with following signs:
  1. Acne-like breakouts with bumps and pimples
  2. Oily skin
  3. May burn or sting
  4. Broken small blood vessels that are visible
  5. Raised patches on skin called plaques
  • Subtype 3 - rhinophyma is a rare subtype of rosacea. The signs and symptoms include:
  1. Skin texture that is bumpy
  2. Thickened skin, especially on the nose, but also on chin, forehead, cheeks and ears
  3. Broken blood vessels that are visible
  4. Oily skin
  • Subtype 4 - ocular rosacea affects the eyes with the following signs and symptoms:
  1. Bloodshot, watery eyes
  2. Eyes itch, burn or sting
  3. Light sensitivity of eyes
  4. Eyelids have visible broken blood vessels
  5. Cyst on the eyelids

What causes rosacea and who gets it?

Rosacea is common and according to the U.S. government, more than 14 million people are living with rosacea. Most are between 30 and 50 years of age, fair-skinned, of Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry and may be prone to acne.

Women as well as men get rosacea, with women being more likely. Children may also get rosacea, as well as people of all colors.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, other causes that may be contributing factors include:

  • Heredity may play a roll, with rosacea appearing with family members who inherit genes for rosacea.
  • Studies have shown the immune system may be overreactive due to a single bacteria found in acne, called bacillus oleronius.

What triggers rosacea?

If you are living with rosacea, your skin is extremely sensitive. This means many things can cause rosacea flare-ups. The following are some known rosacea triggers you should pay attention to and minimize. Besides this list below, find out more triggers by clicking factors that may trigger rosacea.

  1. Sunlight
  2. Stress
  3. Heat such as hot drinks
  4. Red wine and other alcohol
  5. Spicy foods, cinnamon, chocolate, tomatoes
  6. Harsh skin and hair care products
  7. Makeup with common irritating ingredients
  8. Cold weather and wind
  9. Some medications
  10. Heavy exercise

The National Rosacea Society has an online form to fill out to keep tabs towards determining triggers for rosacea and how to take action to avoid the triggers.

Medical Treatment for Rosacea

It's best to consult with a dermatologist for a customized treatment plan to control flare-ups. They can also advise you if certain medications you are taking may be contributing to rosacea symptoms. These can include medicines for:

  • High blood pressure and heart problems
  • Anxiety
  • Migraines
  • Glaucoma
  • Vitamin B3

Home remedies for rosacea

The most important part of managing and preventing flare-ups is to learn what your triggers are and avoid them. The following steps can help you with those uncontrollable symptoms of rosacea:

  • Sun protection - use a broad-spectrum, gentle, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide sunscreen with an SPF of 30. Wear a hat that covers your face during the day. Stay out of midday sun and as much as possible, stay in the shade.
  • Stress management - joining a rosacea support group, gentle stretches, a stroll in a park, doing something daily that brings you joy, and deep breathing can all help bust stress.
  • Avoid extreme overheating - take warm baths and showers, not hot ones. Avoid sitting close to fireplaces or heaters. Also avoid hot beverages, instead choose iced coffee or tea.
  • Curb down spicy foods - if you love spicy wings or hot salsa, try a mild version.

Skin Care Tips for Rosacea

What you use on your skin and hair can affect rosacea flare-ups. Since people with rosacea tend to have very sensitive skin, it's not unusual if your face burns, stings, or itches after using skin or hair care products. Certain brands of products may be the culprit of these symptoms.

Dermatologists recommend the following to helps avoid flare-ups with daily used products:

  • Get product brand recommendation from a dermatologist. The American Contact Dermatology Society has a list that you can only get from a dermatologist. The list is called CAMP and helps you find products that are dermatologist recommended brands.
  • Avoid any products with menthol, mint, camphor, or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This is a harsh detergent used for foaming. It's found in skin, hair, body care products and most toothpaste. Look at ingredients on labels and choose products that are SLS free.
  • Choose fragrance free skin and hair care. Fragrances are in many skin, hair and body products. They contain irritants that dermatologists warn against them. It's best to opt for fragrance-free products.
  • Not all "natural" products are safe. Plant extracts and essential oils have side effects and many contain harsh preservatives not listed on the label. It's best to find a brand that is free of common irritants, including essential oils and plant extracts.

Makeup Tips for Rosacea

If you don't want to do without makeup, this is what dermatologists recommend:

  • Clean your face with a mild fragrance-free, SLS-free cleanser
  • Follow with a gentle moisturizer
  • Avoid waterproof makeup
  • Avoid heavy foundations


References for this blog:

    1. American Academy of Dermatology
    2. National Rosacea Society
    3. American Contact Dermatitis Society
    4. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 019 Jun; 12(6): 17–24.
    5. Annals of Dermatology and Venereology, September 2019, pages 585–591

Other articles of interest to read next: 

What Triggers Rosacea?

How to Tell if Your Acne is Actually Rosacea

6 Sensitive Skin Common Skin Problems and Solutions

Pre and Post Workout Skin Care for Sensitive Skin

Simple Skin Care Tips for Sensitive Skin







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