Everything to know about rosacea: What it actually is, the causes, symptoms, and how to treat it

Everything to know about rosacea: What it actually is, the causes, symptoms, and how to treat it

Red flags

Text: Jeway Tan

Editor: Emily Heng

In all fairness, there's nothing out of the ordinary about blushing. Most times, it is attributed to skin sensitivity, heat-related rashes, and the like — or, perhaps not. Should the above reasons be ruled out, there is another factor to consider: a chronic skin condition called rosacea that causes your facial skin to turn red. Unlike aforementioned issues, its effects are more severe and permanent. However, that's not to say it can't be managed with the right treatment plan. Still, you might be wondering: how can you tell if you're actually suffering from rosacea, and not a case of extreme paranoia exacerbated by WebMD trawls? What does rosacea do to your skin? And for the love of all things holy, what caused it? Fret not, folks. We answer all your burning questions, below.

What is rosacea, exactly?

According to the National University Hospital (NUH), rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition commonly found on the ski of the face. It often presents itself as skin redness. The cause of rosacea is still unknown, and there is no permanent cure for it. Nevertheless, there are ways to help manage, control the condition and reverse its signs and symptoms.

There are 4 types of rosacea. Some people with the condition may have more than one type at the same time. The types of rosacea are:

  • Subtype one: Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea
  • Subtype two: Papulopustular or Acne Rosacea
  • Subtype three: Rhinophyma or Phymatous Rosacea
  • Subtype four: Ocular Rosacea


What are the common symptoms of rosacea?

Symptoms are best distinguished by which type of rosacea you suffer from. For Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea, its symptoms prove to be:

  • Flushing and redness on the face
  • Visibly broken blood vessels
  • Swollen or sensitive skin
  • Dry, bumpy, flaking, or peeling skin
  • Burning and stinging skin

Papulopustular or Acne Rosacea, on the other hand, can be identified via:

  • Acne breakouts
  • Very red skin
  • Sensitive and oily skin
  • Raised and bumpy skin
  • Visibly broken blood vessels

Rhinophyma or Phymatous Rosacea is the thickening of the skin caused by excessive tissue build-up . This type of Rosacea is more commonly found in men and harbour these common markers:

  • Bumpy and rough skin
  • Thickened skin on the nose, chin, forehead, cheeks and ears
  • Enlarged pores
  • Visibly broken blood vessels

Lastly, Ocular Rosacea affects the eyes and may cause potential vision loss due to damage in the corneas. This particular type is serious and, in severe case, requires patients to be referred to an ophthalmologist. The symptoms include:

  • Teary and bloodshot eyes
  • Burning and stinging sensation of the eyes
  • Dry and itching eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Light sensitivity
  • Cyst on the eyelids
  • Visible broken blood vessels on the eyelids
  • Diminished vision

What are the causes of rosacea?

While the exact cause of rosacea is still unclear, it has been noted that some things can trigger the condition. Some of said triggers encompass:

  • Eating spicy food
  • Drinking hot coffee or tea
  • Caffeine and alcohol
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Exercising to much
  • Extreme weather and changes in temperature


Who is more prone to developing rosacea?

Certain people are more susceptible to getting rosacea. Rosacea is more commonly found in women than in men, but men tend to have more severe symptoms. Rosacea usually begins developing after the age of 30. Scientific research has shown that people with fair/light skin and have blond hair and blue eyes, along with having a family history of the condition or have Celtic or Scandinavian ancestors are more susceptible to getting rosacea.

So, are you blushing, or is it a serious case of rosacea?

Blushing and/or flushing is the natural response to exercise, alcohol or feelings. This redness of the skin is temporary and will most likely go away after a while. Rosacea, on the other hand, is more persistent and even permanent, at times. Along with the redness, people with rosacea would sometimes feel a burning or stinging sensation. If skin redness refuses to fade after a few days, be sure to consult a dermatologist or doctor.

How can rosacea be treated?

While there is currently no permanent cure for rosacea, there are some treatments that can help manage it and reduce flare-ups' appearance. These treatments include: applying antibiotics; vitamin A derived creams or gels; oral antibiotics; oral isotretinoin; as well as laser and light therapy. It is also recommended you avoid using products containing alcohol, menthol, retinoids, witch hazel, or exfoliating agents as these ingredients may cause flare-ups and inflammations.