• Overview
  • What it looks like
  • How it happens
  • Treatment & tips
  • Skin care solutions


Rosacea is a skin condition that affects the appearance of your face. It usually develops slowly and can continue to get worse over time. It first appears as a redness (flushing or blushing), usually in the centre of the face, but it can also affect the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead.

Rosacea is a chronic (or lifelong) skin condition. As it first develops, the symptoms tend to come and go. The condition may appear to improve and then inexplicably flare up and appear even worse than before. If left untreated, the redness can become permanent and tiny blood vessels may become visible.

As rosacea advances, pimples often develop. Because some signs of rosacea resemble acne, it is sometimes referred to as “acne rosacea”; however, unlike acne, no comedones (or blackheads) are present. In its advanced state, the nose becomes bumpy, red and swollen. Rosacea rarely affects the skin beyond the face.

What it looks like

What it looks likeWhat it looks likeWhat it looks like

Common rosacea symptoms are:

  • Frequent redness, blushing or flushing on the face
  • Pimple-like facial blemishes (some contain pus and others do not)
  • Bumps or lumps on the nose
  • Watery or irritated eyes
  • Small red lines on the face caused by enlarged bloods vessels

Rosacea can get worse over time and looks different as it progresses through each stage...

Early stage:

  • Redness appears on cheeks, nose, forehead or chin that comes and goes
  • Tiny blood vessels may become visible on the surface of the skin
  • In some cases, the eyes may feel gritty

Middle stage:

  • Facial redness becomes ruddier and more permanent
  • Pimples appear as the disease progresses. These may appear as papules (small, red, solid bumps)
  • Tiny blood vessels may become increasingly visible
  • Enlarged blood vessels called “telangiectasia” may develop. While they may produce a web-like look, they are not always visible
  • In some cases, the eyes may become bloodshot

Late stage:

  • Inflammation of the skin grows increasingly severe
  • Men, especially, may develop fleshy bumps on the nose. As the number of bumps increases, the nose may appear swollen. This condition is called “rhinophyma”

How it happens

The causes of rosacea are unknown. People are susceptible due to a variety of factors, such as heredity and skin colour.

Contrary to popular myths, rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene or by drinking, though a number of lifestyle factors can cause the condition to flare-up – particularly factors that can cause a rise in core body temperature. Here are a few examples and tips to avoid them...

Food and Condiments: Hot and spicy foods, soy sauce, vinegar

  • Tip: Balance hot foods with a cool drink or fruit. Avoid hot spices.

Alcohol: Red wine, beer, bourbon, gin, vodka, champagne

  • Tip: Add ice or mix, or try a spritzer instead of wine.

Hot Drinks: Hot cider, hot chocolate, coffee, tea

  • Tip: Limit your intake and try iced coffee or tea.

Emotion: Stress, anxiety, flushing, blushing

  • Tip: Take a walk to cool off, breathe deeply or run your wrist under cold water.

Physical Activity: Exercise, lifting, elevated blood pressure

  • Tip: Dress appropriately. Drink cold water and take breaks.

Skin Care Products: Cosmetics, hair sprays with alcohol, witch hazel or fragrances, hydro-alcoholic or acetone substances, anything causing redness or stinging

  • Tip: Read labels and check with your pharmacist if you're not sure.

Temperature: Saunas, hot baths, feeling overheated, warm environment

  • Tip: Limit your exposure and stay in an air-conditioned area.

Weather: Sun, hot days, strong winds, cold, humidity

  • Tip: Wear light cotton clothing. Protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunscreen. Wear a scarf when out in the cold.

Treatment & tips

It's important for you to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about a rosacea treatment strategy that includes medications, avoiding and managing the things that trigger rosacea symptoms, and maintaining a good skin care routine.

Currently, there is no cure for rosacea, but it can be treated. Treatments may stop progression of the disease and, in some cases, reverse the damage. It is important to seek medical care early and follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. Without treatment, rosacea can cause permanent damage.

Treatment depends on the physician’s evaluation of the condition, what symptoms are present, and your own feelings about treatment. In most cases, doctors prescribe topical and/or oral medications as initial treatment. This is followed up by long-term therapy with a topical medication to diminish recurrence. Over-the-counter therapies are not recommended for the treatment of rosacea, and acne preparations may even make it worse.

Whatever the choice of treatment, continued, regular use of the rosacea medication will help control redness and the number of pimples over the long term. Proper use of the medication should show results after several weeks.

Skin care solutions

To properly care for your skin, follow this daily, four-step, skin care regimen:


Because rosacea-prone skin can be easily irritated, it is important to cleanse with a non-irritating, soap-free, oil-free and fragrance-free, mild cleanser (like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser). Apply cleanser gently with your fingertips. Rinse with warm – not hot – water and blot with a soft towel.


There is no substitute for medical treatment in the effective management of rosacea. Once diagnosed, carefully follow your prescribed treatment. Apply your topical medication in a thin layer across the affected areas only and allow it to dry before applying moisturizer, makeup or sunscreen.

Moisturize and Protect

Rosacea is noted for causing dryness to the skin and can upset your facial skin’s normal protective barrier. To help restore moisture without causing irritation, apply a long-lasting, water-based moisturizer in a cream or lotion formulation. Make sure you choose a product that does not contain fragrances or lanolin and is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores). For moisturizing during the day, apply Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15 orSPF 50 with broad spectrum protection or Cetaphil DailyAdvance or Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion.


Cleanse and moisturize your face once in the morning and again before bedtime. For overnight moisturization, apply Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream or Cetaphil Barrier Cream to the affected areas.