Red spots that appear on the face are often caused by broken capillaries, which are “tiny blood vessels that run through the surface of the skin,” says John Diaz, a Beverly Hills-based board-certified plastic surgeon. Some of the most common reasons blood vessels break are a fluctuation in hormones, sun damage, and skin conditions, like rosacea, he says.
Fortunately, if it’s hormonal the red spots will go away on their own; if it’s sun damage or a skin condition, like rosacea, your dermatologist can discuss treatments with you.
One good reason to have your mysterious red spots checked by a dermatologist is the possibility of diabetes. “Because pre-diabetics are more at risk for skin infections, they can develop various types of rashes and bumps,” explains board-certified dermatologist Joel Schlessinger. Granuloma annulare and eruptive xanthomatosis are common examples of this.
Schlessinger also suggests looking at the ingredients in your beauty and grooming products, especially hair care.
“Although hair dye is the most common culprit, other hair products can also cause skin redness, itching, and inflammation, including hairsprays, shampoos, and conditioners,” he says. “Often these skin reactions are caused by added fragrances or propylene glycol.”
Conditioners specifically contain an ingredient called isopropyl myristate, which can clog pores and lead to acne if it’s not properly rinsed from skin. Best way to find out if one of your fave products is the cause of your spots? Avoid lathering up with them for a few weeks to see if the spots go away.
More skin issues:
- Studies Show Pinot Grigio Could Trigger Rosacea and We Are Extremely Sad About It
- The FDA Just Approved a Groundbreaking Rosacea Cream
- What’s Behind Everyone’s Obsession with Radiant Skin?
Now, see 100 years of skin care:
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- Check if you have rosacea
- What is This Red Spot on My Nose?
- Rosacea (Adult Acne)
- What Are These Little Bumps on My Skin? Non-Acne Bumps and other Bumps on Face, Debunked.
- There’s a lot of overlap with treatments.
- Don’t forget, patience is key.
- All About Rosacea
- What Should I Look For?
- What Causes Rosacea?
- How is Rosacea Treated?
- More than just a red face: 7 signs of rosacea
- If left untreated, rosacea can lead to permanent damage
- Redness across the cheeks, nose and forehead
- Broken blood vessels
- Bumps and pimples
- Swollen, bulb-shaped nose
- Enlarged pores
- Bumps on the eyelids
- Eye irritation and vision problems
- A fast, convenient way to get the help for over 3,000 skin, hair and nail conditions
Check if you have rosacea
The first signs of rosacea include:
redness (blushing) across your nose, cheeks, forehead and chin that comes and goes
a burning or stinging feeling when using water or skincare products
The redness may be harder to see on darker skin.
As rosacea gets worse, your cheeks, nose, skin and forehead will be red all the time. Credit:
Hercules Robinson / Alamy Stock Photo
Tiny broken blood vessels that do not go away may appear on your skin. Credit:
MilanStock.com / Alamy Stock Photo
You may get small pink or red bumps. Sometimes these become filled with a yellowish liquid. Credit:
DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Other symptoms can include:
- dry skin
- swelling, especially around the eyes
- yellow-orange patches on the skin
- sore eyelids or crusts around roots of eyelashes – this could be blepharitis
- thickened skin, mainly on the nose (usually appears after many years)
It’s not known what causes rosacea, but some triggers can make symptoms worse. Common triggers for rosacea include:
- spicy foods
- hot drinks
- aerobic exercise like running
If you’re not sure it’s rosacea
Check what else it could be?
Rosacea can look a lot like other conditions, such as:
- contact dermatitis, seborrhoeic dermatitis and other types of dermatitis
- keratosis pilaris
What is This Red Spot on My Nose?
The red spot on your nose could be caused by a disease or skin condition. It is likely that you noticed the red spot on your nose early, but it is important to monitor it for any changes. Try not to pick at the spot or coat it with makeup.
Possible causes for your red spot include:
The skin on the tip and side of your nose is thicker and contains more pores that secrete oil (sebum). The bridge and sidewalls of your nose have thinner skin that are not as highly populated with sebaceous glands.
It is likely that a pimple or acne could develop on the oiliest parts of your nose. If you have the following symptoms, you may have a pimple on your nose:
- small red spot
- spot is slightly raised
- spot may have a small hole in the middle of it
To treat acne, wash the area and try not to touch it or squeeze it. If the pimple does not go away or improve in one or two weeks, consider having your doctor or a dermatologist look at it.
The red spot on your nose may have appeared due to dry skin.
If you have dry skin on your nose from dehydration, sunburn, or naturally occurring dry skin, you may experience red patches where the dead skin falls away. This is normal as the “new skin” underneath the flaky skin may not be fully developed yet.
Basal cell skin cancer
Basal cell cancer occurs most frequently in those who have:
- a fair complexion
- light colored eyes
- daily or frequent sun exposure
Basal cell cancer is usually painless and could appear as a red, scaly patch of skin on your nose. It may also be accompanied by:
- bleeding sore
- broken or highly visible blood vessels around area
- slightly raised or flat skin
If the red spot on your nose is basal cell cancer, you will need to discuss treatment options with your doctor. This may include excision, cryosurgery, chemotherapy, or other treatment options.
Melanoma is another form of skin cancer. This is a type of cancer that begins in your pigment-producing cells. If you have a red spot that fits the description below, you may have melanoma.
- accompanied with brown or tan spots
Melanoma can vary in how they look. If you think that you may have melanoma, you should get a doctor to check the red spot before it grows or changes.
Spider nevi usually make an appearance when a person is suffering from a liver issue or carcinoid syndrome.
If the spot on your nose is red, slightly raised, has a center “head,” and has several radiating blood vessels (like spider legs) you could have a spider nevus. This lesion can be treated with pulsed dye or laser therapy.
If you have many spots on your face and nose accompanied with a fever, runny nose, or cough, you may have measles.
Measles usually will resolve themselves once the fever breaks, however you should contact a doctor for treatment if your fever exceeds 103ºF.
Still more causes of a red spot on your nose include:
- lupus pernio
Rosacea (Adult Acne)
What is rosacea (adult acne)?
Rosacea is a common disorder that most usually affects facial skin. It causes redness on the nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead. Over time, the redness may become more intense, taking on a ruddy appearance. Small blood vessels may become visible.
In some cases, rosacea can appear on the chest, ears, neck, or scalp. If rosacea is not treated, red solid bumps and pus-filled pimples can develop. The disorder can cause the nose to take on a bulbous, swollen appearance called rhinophyma. Rosacea can affect the eyes, causing them to feel irritated and to appear bloodshot or watery. Styes may occur. This is called ocular rosacea.
Rosacea affects an estimated 14 million Americans. Most of them do not know they have this condition.
Who is likely to get rosacea (adult acne)?
People who have fair skin and who tend to blush easily might be at a higher risk for the disorder. Adults over the age of 30 are more likely to be affected, although rosacea occasionally occurs in adolescents and rarely in children. A family history of rosacea increases the likelihood of the disorder.
Rosacea appears more often among women, but men tend to have the more severe symptoms. A possible reason for this could be that men delay medical treatment until rosacea becomes advanced.
What causes rosacea (adult acne)?
The cause of rosacea is unknown; however, different theories exist regarding the cause. One theory is that rosacea might be a component of a more generalized disorder of the blood vessels. Other theories suggest that the condition is caused by microscopic skin mites, fungus, psychological factors, or a malfunction of the connective tissue under the skin. Although no one knows for sure what causes rosacea, some circumstances and conditions can trigger it.
What are the signs and symptoms of rosacea (adult acne)?
Rosacea’s appearance can vary greatly from one individual to another. Most of the time, not all of the potential signs and symptoms appear. Rosacea always includes at least one of the primary signs listed below. Various secondary signs and symptoms might also develop.
Primary signs of rosacea include:
- Flushing: Many people who have rosacea have a history of frequent blushing or flushing. The facial redness, which might come and go, often is the earliest sign of the disorder.
- Persistent redness: Persistent facial redness might resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.
- Bumps and pimples: Small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples often develop. Sometimes the bumps might resemble acne, but blackheads are absent. Burning or stinging might be present.
- Visible blood vessels: Small blood vessels become visible on the skin of many people who have rosacea.
Other potential signs and symptoms of rosacea include:
- Eye irritation: The eyes might be irritated, and appear watery or bloodshot in some people with rosacea. This condition, called ocular rosacea, can also involve styes as well as redness and swelling of the eyelids. Severe cases, if left untreated, can result in corneal damage and vision loss.
- Burning or stinging: Burning or stinging sensations might occur on the face, and itchiness or a feeling of tightness might also develop.
- Dry appearance: The central facial skin might be rough, and thus appear to be very dry.
- Plaques: Raised red patches (plaques) might develop without changes in the surrounding skin.
- Skin thickening: In some cases of rosacea, the skin might thicken and enlarge from excess tissue, resulting in a condition called rhinophyma. This condition often occurs on the nose, causing it to have a bulbous appearance.
- Swelling: Facial swelling (edema) can occur independently or can accompany other signs of rosacea.
- Signs beyond the face: Signs and symptoms might develop beyond the face, affecting areas including the neck, chest, scalp, or ears.
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What Are These Little Bumps on My Skin? Non-Acne Bumps and other Bumps on Face, Debunked.
How to Identify
This skin condition is also referred to as “chicken skin” since it appears like goosebumps that don’t go away. According to Medscape, Keratosis pilaris (KP) affects nearly 50-80% of all adolescents and approximately 40% of adults.
These dry, hard bumps are typically white, red, or skin-colored and usually occur on arms and thighs, but also commonly affect the face and back. While they’re not painful, they can make skin feel itchy or irritated.
Keratosis pilaris is caused when keratin, which is naturally present in your hair follicles, builds up and plugs the follicle. There are a few reasons you might find yourself living with these little bumps:
- Dry skin – Keratosis pilaris is made worse when skin is dry, particularly if it’s due to low humidity or cold weather (I see you, winter). When your skin is dried out, it can overproduce keratin in an attempt to moisturize and protect itself. This process jams up follicles, causing ingrown hairs and irritation. This is why these bumps sometimes appear red. Though people with any skin type can experience this condition, it commonly affects those that are prone to dry skin.
- Chafing – These bumps can get irritated and made worse by tight clothing that causes chafing. When possible, wear clothing that is loose and breathable. That’s right, you just got one more justifiable reason for rocking your favorite comfy clothes!
- Genetics – There’s also a genetic component, which means it’s pretty likely that someone in your family has KP and passed in on to you (thanks, Mom and Dad).
Treatment and Prevention
While it seems like a good idea to exfoliate these bumps away, it may just exacerbate the problem. As dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD explains, “People tend to over-exfoliate to get smooth, and it just makes it worse, because it stimulates more bumps.”
Harsh exfoliants and cleansers can strip skin of natural moisture, and because KP is made worse when skin is dry, moisture is the name of the game.
Experts recommend using moisturizers that include active ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid), lactic acid, salicylic acid, and urea which will provide a mild exfoliating factor to keep follicles clear while moisturizing skin.
You can also try formulas containing Retin-A which will remove the top dead layers of skin and encourage new cell turnover and growth. Since this ingredient is a little stronger, make sure to follow directions for use which will likely advise that you start by applying it just a couple times a week until your skin acclimates.
How to Identify
It’s possible that your skin is reacting to irritation caused by a makeup, skincare, or hair care product. Some dietary allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances can cause these tiny bumps on the skin. Some people also search for tiny bumps on face or how to get rid of bumps on face when looking for answers on this same subject.
Typically, the way to tell if bumps are a result of an allergy or reaction is that your skin will most likely feel itchy or irritated, and they won’t go away as quickly as acne does. Bumpy skin on the face may also be accompanied by redness or flaky/scaly patches.
When your body encounters an allergen or irritant, it triggers an immune response which can cause inflammation. This can be especially true if you have a sensitive skin type, or are susceptible to conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or hives.
Treatment and Prevention
If you suspect that a food or product is causing an allergic reaction, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause. Your best option is to talk to a doctor or allergist to determine exactly what’s causing a reaction.
It’s also a good idea to steer clear of any products that contain fragrances which play a large part in irritating the skin. You might also want to use products specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
Whenever you’re trying out a new product, do a test patch on a small area of skin and wait 24 to 48 hours to make sure you don’t have a reaction before applying to larger areas. I know, getting a new product is exciting and you want to use it right away, but better safe than sorry!
A Friendly Word to the Wise
If you ever have a bump or skin spot you’re concerned about, do not hesitate to consult your doctor or get it looked at by a professional. Serious conditions such as basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, can mimic the appearance of acne.
If you have a bump that changes, grows, or doesn’t go away, get it checked out ASAP. And, make sure you’re seeing a doctor for yearly skin screenings and spot checks. It may seem like just one more appointment you have to fit into your schedule, but it’s worth it to make sure you have happy, healthy skin!
We did some research and many people will search on their phones for solutions to bumpy skin on face etc, and here are the top searches we found:
- how to get rid of little bumps on face
- bumps on face
- tiny bumps on face allergic reaction
- small pimples on face
- bumpy skin face
- small bumps all over face not acne
- bumps on face not acne
Please don’t search and drive LOL. We made this infographic to help further explain:
Why are Bumps on My Face?
How to Identify
There are a number of things that can cause bumps on your face. So, while you may be thinking worst-case-scenario, try not to stress.
It’s completely normal for all of us to experience an unwanted mystery bump or two every so often.
To help alleviate the worries, let’s go through some of the common causes of bumps on face:
- Ingrown hairs: One of the most common causes for your skin issue– that aren’t acne bumps– is ingrown hair. This happens when the follicle doesn’t grow straight, but rather curls as it comes in. It gets trapped causing what appears to be under the skin pimples.
- Eczema: This is a skin condition that can cause a build up of dry, itchy patches. They can be raised and can come on suddenly. They can show as bumps on forehead, cheeks, or nose.
- Skin Tags: There’s a chance that what you’re seeing are skin tags, too. These are usually soft when touched, the color of your skin, and can anywhere on your face.
Milia: This is a skin condition that causes white skin bumps. With the appearance of a whitehead, these tiny bumps are actually keratin-filled cysts.
Can Stress Cause Bumps on Your Face?
If you’ve ever been told not to over-stress things, it’s with reason, because stress can do wild things to your body.
One of those things is that it can, in fact, cause a lot of unwarranted and unwanted skin issues.
For one thing, stress is known to cause a rise in the hormone cortisol. For those that aren’t aware of what this is, allow us to explain.
Cortisol is responsible for our flight-or-fight mechanism. In its natural use, it allows us to survive.
However, being on deadline for a project is much different than running from a predator in nature, yet our bodies process the “threat” the same way.
One impact in cortisol levels rising is that it causes oil productions to increase.
Thus, this increase can cause bumps, commonly in the form of pimples under the skin or small acne on forehead.
Yet, more serious complications could be stress-related hives. These are raised, red and white areas that itch. They require medical attention.
Can Dairy Cause Bumps on Face?
Diet plays a role in the look and feel of your skin. It’s always beneficial to make sure that you’re eating a clean, balanced plate of food at every meal, since as we should all know by now, what we take into our bodies is what will show on the outside.
Think of the last time you had a thing of fries paired with a milkshake at a burger shop? It probably ended with you feeling greasy.
Well, same goes with dairy. While dairy isn’t always inherently a major cause of pimples on cheeks, or the occasional red bump on nose for everyone, it has been shown that some of us are more sensitive to it.
More serious reactions come from a lactose intolerance which can appear in the form of red bumps on the skin from hives. Lesser issues are red acne bumps, which comes from the presence of hormones in the milk.
There has been a link between the specific hormones found in dairy and sufferers of acne vulgaris.
What do bumps on (your) face mean?
When it comes to defining what the bumps on your face means, it’s important to look at both personal and environmental factors to get a better understanding.
For some people, there’s a chance that bumps on the face are merely happening as a reaction to something that they’ve eaten or put on their skin. The best example of this is breaking out in itchy hives or getting flaky skin patches after using a harsh product.
For others, however, bumps can be slightly more semi-permanent. The causes for that stem from keratin-filled cysts called milia, or suffering from eczema.
The thing to note about either of these situations though is that neither has to affect your complexion since there are treatments out there to ease the presence of bumps — be it forehead bumps or ones on your neck.
How to remove bumps on (your) face naturally?
Removing bumps naturally all depends on what the cause was in the first place. To help get a better feel for your own personal remedy, here’s a quick rundown:
- Red Acne Bumps: If your bumps are identified as acne, you can start by changing your diet to have more clean, green vegetables that are naturally detoxifying and by using a cleanser that has a small percentage of salicylic acid in it to thoroughly cleanse the oil from your skin. This can help prevent even small acne on the forehead that may seem pesky to rid of.
- Ingrown Hairs: Make sure that you’re prepping the surface of the skin before you wax, or shave, by using treatments that moisturize and protect the skin.
- Milia: To help ease the presence of milia, you should use a natural exfoliator to remove layers of the skin, allowing the small bumps to slowly disappear. The best exfoliators for this contain glycolic acid or lactic acid.
Now that you’re educated, get yourself treated (if applicable) and watch those bumps disappear!
Little bumps and blemishes can be frustrating in our quest for clear skin. However, it’s important not to get lost fixating on tiny imperfections and lose sight of the bigger overall picture: healthy skin.
Still have questions about bumps or skin concerns? Download the skincarebyalana.com app which features a FREE skincare analysis. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your skin and snap a quick photo (optional) using your phone, and a licensed esthetician will review your info and respond – typically within 24 hours – with a skin analysis and recommendations for products that will get you on your way to your best skin!
No matter what skin conditions or concerns you’re dealing with, as long as you make sure you’re taking the best care of your skin, you can’t go wrong!
Have tips or questions on how to win the Battle of the Bumps? Share them with us in the comments section!
My Favorite Products to Beat Those Bumps
Get your skin deep, professional-level clean with this pre-cleanse. This formula’s active ingredients melt away excess oil, sunscreen, waterproof makeup and rinse away dirt, debris, and other impurities to prep your skin to get the most out of your regular cleanser.
Rhonda Allison Rosemary Herbal Cleanser
The alpha hydroxyl mixtures within the cleanser work to decrease cellular buildup in order to soften the skin for a smoother texture and feel. It also washes away dirt, acne-causing bacteria, and excess oil to leave you with younger-looking, radiant skin.
Bioelements Quick Refiner
This leave-on gel treatment harnesses the might power of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to naturally exfoliate the skin by removing dead skin cells and other impurities to reveal a glow. It also refines a dull, tired complexions. Get ready for fresh, revitalized skin!
Ilike Organic Skin Care Rosehip Exfoliator
This clarifying exfoliating treatment uses lactic acid to gently loosen and remove dead skin cells as well as micro-polishers to buff them away. It also nourishes skin by infusing it with vitamins and anti-aging benefits and encourages healthy, new cell generation.
Skin Script Retinol 2% Exfoliating Scrub/Mask
Skin Script’s powerful exfoliating scrub includes Retinol to polish and purify the skin by lifting away dead skin and hyperpigmentation, and supporting healthy cell turnover. It also improves the production of collagen and elastin, which means smoother skin and less fine lines and wrinkles for you!
Image Skincare Clear Cell Salicylic Clarifying Pads
These powerful little pads use salicylic and glycolic acid to cleanse and clarify skin by removing excess oil, dirt, and impurities. They also balance skin and include antioxidants to soothe redness and reduce inflammation. Plus, they’re perfect for skincare on-the-go!
Foreo Luna 2
Get a deep, revitalizing cleanse with this brush. It gently pulsates to soften skin, remove makeup and impurities, and get skin delightfully clean and glowing. It also stimulates skin and smooths fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, it feels amazing, like an at-home face massage!
Last updated by Alana Mitchell at December 24, 2019.
Of course, these general rules are not black and white. It’s also possible to have both acne and rosacea, which can just make all of this more confusing, and why you should also seek out a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.
There’s a lot of overlap with treatments.
If some of your symptoms point to rosacea and others point to acne, don’t worry. Even though telling these conditions apart can be tricky, Dr. Zampella emphasizes that “the difference might not be all that important because the treatment(s) might be the same.” In other words, don’t be surprised if you have rosacea and your derm recommends or prescribes something you commonly think of as an acne treatment.
For instance, Dr. Manusco and Dr. Zampella both recommend azelaic acid for people dealing with acne and rosacea, which comes in prescription and over-the-counter formulas. Although it’s an acid, it usually doesn’t cause too much irritation, as SELF wrote previously.
For some people, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids also function as treatments for both rosacea and acne. However, these options often cause irritation and worsen symptoms at first, especially in people with sensitive skin caused by rosacea—so it’s best to consult a dermatologist before trying one of these.
Antibiotics are great at reducing inflammation, which is why dermatologists may prescribe them for acne or rosacea. Topical antibiotics like clindamycin or metronidazole can calm mild surface redness, while oral antibiotics (usually doxycycline) reduce inflammation from within. Some people with acne or acne-like rosacea symptoms may also benefit from using topical treatments containing sulfur or sodium sulfacetamide, the AAD says.
In addition to treatments like these, you may be able to manage your flare-ups by adjusting your behaviors so that you minimize exposure to your triggers. Your dermatologist can help you track your flare-ups, figure out what’s causing them, and recommend gentle skin-care products that are less likely to irritate sensitive skin.
Ultimately, there’s a pretty wide variety of over-the-counter and prescription skin-care treatments that address these issues, some of which may be better suited for acne or rosacea, and some that may work well for both. As with any skin condition, treatment can be very subjective, so it’s important to work with your dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis and determine what treatment plan makes the most sense for you.
Don’t forget, patience is key.
As usual with skin products and treatments, you’re not likely to see immediate results. And, unfortunately, things may get worse before they get better. “Some products, particularly topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, can irritate and may temporarily worsen acne and even rosacea,” Dr. Manusco explains. “But if you persist with treatment, you can see improvement.”
That’s why she recommends sticking with those treatments for at least three months—despite mild flare-ups. It’s also important (always, but especially if you’re dealing with sensitive skin) not to use too many potentially irritating products at once. Instead, give each new product at least a few weeks to work on its own before deciding to drop it or add something else to your routine.
But if you’re not seeing any improvements after consistently using the product for a few weeks, or you feel like you’re actually breaking out more, it’s time to check in again with your dermatologist.
At the end of the day, it’s all about pinpointing the skin issue you have and finding what works for you. Be patient, stick with treatment, and keep an open mind. Chances are an effective treatment plan is out there just waiting for you to find it.
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All About Rosacea
Rosacea (pronounced “roh-ZAY-sha”) is a chronic but treatable condition that primarily affects the central face, and is often characterized by flare-ups and remissions. Although rosacea may develop in many ways and at any age, patient surveys indicate that it typically begins any time after age 30 as flushing or redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. Studies have shown that over time the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear. Left untreated, inflammatory bumps and pimples often develop, and in severe cases — particularly in men — the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. In as many as 50 percent of patients the eyes are also affected, feeling irritated and appearing watery or bloodshot.
Although rosacea can affect all segments of the population and all skin types, individuals with fair skin who tend to flush or blush easily are believed to be at greatest risk. The disorder is more frequently diagnosed in women, but tends to be more severe in men. There is also evidence that rosacea may tend to run in families, and may be especially prevalent in people of northern or eastern European descent.
In surveys by the National Rosacea Society (NRS), nearly 90 percent of rosacea patients said this condition had lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem, and 41 percent reported it had caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements. Among those with severe rosacea, nearly 88 percent said the disorder had adversely affected their professional interactions, and nearly 51 percent said they had even missed work because of their condition. The good news is that well over 70 percent reported medical treatment had improved their emotional and social well-being.
While the cause of rosacea is unknown and there is no cure, knowledge of its signs and symptoms has advanced to where they can be effectively controlled with medical therapy and lifestyle changes. Individuals who suspect they may have rosacea are urged to see a dermatologist or other qualified physician for diagnosis and appropriate treatment — before the disorder becomes increasingly severe and intrusive on daily life.
What Should I Look For?
Rosacea can vary substantially from one individual to another, and in most cases some rather than all of the potential signs and symptoms appear. According to a consensus committee and review panel of 28 medical experts worldwide, diagnosis requires at least one diagnostic sign or two major signs of rosacea.1 Various secondary signs and symptoms may also develop but are not diagnostic.
Diagnostic Signs of Rosacea
The presence of either of these signs is diagnostic of rosacea.
- Persistent Redness
Persistent facial redness is the most common individual sign of rosacea, and may resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away.
- Skin Thickening
The skin may thicken and enlarge from excess tissue, most commonly on the nose (known as rhinophyma, pronounced “rye-no-FY-muh”). This condition is less common, but can lead to facial disfigurement and inadequate nasal airflow if severe.
Major Signs of Rosacea
The presence of at least two of these signs is diagnostic of rosacea.
Many people with rosacea have a history of frequent blushing or flushing. This facial redness may be accompanied by a sense of heat, warmth or burning comes and goes, and is often an early feature of the disorder.
- Bumps and Pimples
Small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples often develop. While these may resemble acne, blackheads are absent and burning or stinging may occur.
- Visible Blood Vessels
In many people with rosacea, prominent and visible small blood vessels called telangiectasia (pronounced “tell-ANN-jeck-TAY-zha”) become on the cheeks, nasal bridge, and other areas of the central face.
- Eye Irritation
In many rosacea patients, the eyes may be irritated and appear watery or bloodshot, a condition commonly known as ocular rosacea. The eyelids also may become red and swollen, and styes are common. Crusts and scale may accumulate around the eyelids or eyelashes, and patients may notice visible blood vessels around the lid margins. Severe cases can result in corneal damage and loss of visual acuity without medical help.
Secondary Signs and Symptoms
These may appear with one or more of the diagnostic or major signs.
- Burning or Stinging
Burning or stinging sensations may often occur on the face. Itching or a feeling of tightness may also develop.
Facial swelling, known as edema, may accompany other signs of rosacea or occur independently. Raised red patches, known as plaques, may develop without changes in the surrounding skin.
The central facial skin may be rough, and appear scaly despite some patients complaining of oily skin.
In rare cases, rosacea signs and symptoms may also develop beyond the face, most commonly on the neck, chest, scalp or ears.
What Causes Rosacea?
Although the cause of rosacea remains unknown, researchers have now identified major elements of the disease process that may lead to significant advances in its treatment. Recent studies have shown that the facial redness is likely to be the start of an inflammatory continuum initiated by a combination of neurovascular dysregulation and the innate immune system. The role of the innate immune system in rosacea has been the focus of groundbreaking studies funded by the NRS, including the discovery of irregularities of key microbiological components known as cathelicidins. Further research has now demonstrated that a marked increase in mast cells, located at the interface between the nervous system and vascular system, is a common link in all major presentations of the disorder.
Beyond neurovascular and immune system factors, the presence of a microscopic mite called Demodex folliculorum has been considered as a potential contributor to rosacea. This mite is a normal inhabitant of human skin, but has been found to be substantially more abundant in the facial skin of rosacea patients. Researchers have also discovered that two genetic variants of the human genome may be associated with the disorder.
Other recent studies that have found associations between rosacea and increased risk for a growing number of potentially serious systemic diseases, suggesting that rosacea may be an outcome of systemic inflammation. Although causal relationships have not been determined, these have included cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, neurological and autoimmune diseases and certain cancers.
To learn more, visit the Causes of Rosacea section.
How is Rosacea Treated?
Because the signs and symptoms of rosacea vary from one patient to another, treatment must be tailored by a physician for each individual case. Learn more about when to see a doctor.
A range of oral and topical medications may be used to treat the various signs and symptoms associated with the disorder. Physicians may prescribe medical therapy specifically to control the redness. Bumps and pimples often receive initial treatment with oral and topical therapy to bring the condition under immediate control, followed by long-term use of an anti-inflammatory therapy alone to maintain remission. Therapies specific for rosacea are now available in various formulations that can be selected for each patient.
When appropriate, lasers, intense pulsed light sources or other medical and surgical devices may be used to remove visible blood vessels or correct disfigurement of the nose. Ocular rosacea may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and other therapy, and recommendations from an eye doctor may be needed. To view photos of treatment results, see Rosacea Treatment Photos.
Patients should check with their physicians to ensure their skin-care routine is compatible with their rosacea. A gentle skin-care routine can also help control rosacea. Patients are advised to clean their face with a mild and non-abrasive cleanser, then rinse with lukewarm water and blot the face dry with a thick cotton towel. Never pull, tug or use a rough washcloth.
Patients may apply non-irritating skin-care products as needed, and are advised to protect the skin from sun exposure using a sunscreen that delivers UVA/UVB protection with an SPF of 30 or higher. Mild or pediatric formulations are available for sensitive skin, and look for non-chemical (mineral) sunscreens that contain zinc or titanium dioxide. Rosacea patients should avoid any skin-care products that sting, burn or cause additional redness.
Cosmetics may be used to conceal the effects of rosacea. Green makeup or green-tinted foundations can be used to counter redness. This can be followed by a skin-tone foundation with natural yellow tones, avoiding those with pink or orange hues.
To learn more, see Skin Care & Cosmetics.
In addition to long-term medical therapy, rosacea patients can improve their chances of maintaining remission by identifying and avoiding lifestyle and environmental factors — often related to flushing — that may trigger flare-ups or aggravate their individual conditions. Identifying these factors is an individual process, however, because what causes a flare-up in one person may have no effect on another.
To help identify personal trigger factors, rosacea patients are advised to keep a diary of daily activities or events and relate them to any flare-ups they may experience. NRS members may obtain a Rosacea Diary booklet and other materials at no charge. Join the NRS today!
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more specific information.
1. Gallo RL, Granstein RD, Kang S, et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. J Am Acad Dermatol 2018 Jan;78(1):148-155.
Acknowledgments: This section was reviewed and edited by Dr. Jerry Tan, adjunct professor of dermatology, the University of Western Ontario, and Dr. Diane Thiboutot, professor of dermatology, Pennsylvania State University.
More than just a red face: 7 signs of rosacea
Rosacea is frequently mistaken for acne or an allergic reaction because symptoms mainly appear on and around the face. There’s no cure for it, and experts don’t know exactly what causes it. But they suspect that both environment and genes play a role.
If left untreated, rosacea can lead to permanent damage
Rosacea is more common in women than men, but in men, the symptoms can be more severe. It can also become progressively worse. Leaving it untreated can cause significant damage, not only to the skin, but to the eyes as well. That’s why it’s so important to visit a dermatologist at the earliest sign of these symptoms.
Redness across the cheeks, nose and forehead
This is the classic symptom of rosacea. Sometimes this redness can spread to the neck and chest.
Broken blood vessels
Since rosacea is a vascular disorder, it can cause the small blood vessels on your nose and cheeks to swell. Without treatment, these can become prominent – and permanent.
Bumps and pimples
Small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples resembling acne develop. However, unlike acne, rosacea does not cause blackheads. Affected skin may burn, sting, or feel tight.
Swollen, bulb-shaped nose
Rosacea can cause the skin to thicken on the nose, giving it a bulbous appearance. This is more common in men than women.
The bumps and pimples, as well as skin thickening, that accompany rosacea cause pores to enlarge and become more visible.
Bumps on the eyelids
Rosacea can cause eyelids to become red, swollen, and sties may develop. The area around the eyelid may develop a crust or scaling and, much like the nose and cheeks, blood vessels may become visible.
Eye irritation and vision problems
Eyes may become watery and bloodshot. Severe cases can result in vision loss if not treated. If you are experiencing vision problems, seek medical attention immediately.
If you notice redness on your face that doesn’t go away within several days, visit a dermatologist as quickly as possible. If you’ve already been diagnosed with rosacea, it’s important to keep your symptoms under control by following your treatment plan, keeping an eye on your symptoms, and getting help from a dermatologist if symptoms worsen or flare up more frequently.
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