Rosacea is a skin condition that mainly affects the face, especially the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. It often begins with a tendency for the skin to become temporarily red and flushed. Stinging, spots and visible small blood vessels may also be experienced. Over time, the affected skin can become thickened in appearance and constantly reddened.

Who gets rosacea?

Rosacea is more common in women than in men, and it's more frequent in fair-skinned people than people with dark skin. There's a tendency for rosacea symptoms to appear in middle-age.

Rosacea is a long-term condition. It can come and go in cycles, growing worse for a time, then settling down again.

What causes rosacea?

It's not known exactly what causes rosacea. It may be due to abnormalities in the facial blood vessels, which causes them to dilate too easily. It may also be a reaction to the microscopic skin-mites that almost all of us have living on our skin. 

Most people with rosacea find it's made worse by specific triggers. Common triggers include: 

• Exposure to sunlight

• Stress

• Strenuous exercise

• Extremely hot or extremely cold weather

• Hot drinks

• Alcohol

• Caffeine

• Eating certain foods, for example, spicy food

Rosacea is not infectious. You can't catch it from, or pass it on to someone else.

Treating rosacea

Although rosacea can't be cured, there are things you can do to help keep your symptoms under control.

Steps you can take yourself

Avoid your 'triggers' as much as possible to help reduce the number of flare-ups. It might be helpful to keep a note of when your flare-ups happen to pinpoint your triggers. For example, if you have an alcoholic drink or a spicy curry and you notice it makes your skin worse, make a note of it.

Protect your skin from the sun by using a sunscreen daily on your face, even when it’s cloudy or overcast. Choose a sun cream with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30, and one which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Try to reduce the time you spend in the sun in the summer months, especially when the sun is at its strongest. Covering up with loose clothing and a hat might also help.

Take good care of your skin by using gentle cleansing products and moisturisers formulated for sensitive skin. Your pharmacist can advise which products may be suitable.

If you're self-conscious about the way your skin looks during a flare-up, you can consider using make-up especially formulated to help conceal the appearance of rosacea. Your pharmacist can give you advice on this.

Prescription medication

Your Doctor can prescribe creams that are applied directly to your skin. They may also prescribe oral antibiotics. It may take several weeks for these treatments to take effect, so it's important to keep taking them for the length of time prescribed.

For more severe rosacea, you may be referred to a dermatologist. Dermatologists can prescribe more specialised medicines that can be helpful if your rosacea hasn't responded to other treatments.

Next steps 

• If you think you have rosacea, you should see your Doctor. They can prescribe treatments that can help

• Aim to identify and avoid your rosacea 'triggers' to help reduce the number of flare-ups you experience

• If you're self-conscious about how your skin looks during a flare-up, you can consider makeup formulated to help conceal the appearance of rosacea