Acne rosacea

Adult Acne

Basic Information


Chronic inflammation of skin of the face (usually cheeks and nose). It tends to arise between ages 30 and 50 and is more common in women, but more severe in men. Extensive nose involvement, mostly in men, is called rhinophyma.

Frequent signs and symptoms

  • Unsightly red, thickened skin on the nose and cheeks. Small blood vessels are visible on the skin surface.
  • Papules (small raised bumps) and pustules (small, white blisters with pus) on the affected skin (sometimes).
  • Persistent flushing of the nose, cheeks, and forehead.
  • Facial tenderness.

Rosacea causes

Unknown. The condition is worsened by stress, warm drinks, hot or spicy foods, and alcohol. Extreme temperatures or sunlight may also set off a reaction.

Risk increases with

  • Overuse of corticosteroid creams in treatment of other skin disorders.
  • Nervousness and stress.
  • Fair complexion.
  • Excess alcohol consumption.

Preventive measures

Avoiding triggers, such as hot liquids, hot or spicy foods, alcohol, and stress. Extreme temperatures and sunlight may lessen occurrence.

Expected outcomes

Symptoms can be controlled with treatment. Acne rosacea is a disease of remissions and frequent flare-ups.

Possible complications

  • Psychological distress caused by an unsightly appearance.
  • Autoimmune eye disorders (rare).

Acne rosacea treatment

General measures

  • Seek care early if you notice evidence of acne rosacea.
  • Don't use oil-based makeup. Use the thinner, waterbased preparations.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Psychotherapy or counseling, if disfigurement causes distress.
  • Surgery to remove excess tissue (sometimes).
  • Additional information is available from the American Academy of Dermatology.

Rosacea Medications

  • Antibiotics or topical medications may be prescribed. These are effective for unknown reasons.
  • Isotretinoin may be prescribed.
  • Don't use cortisone preparations, including non-prescription preparations (they may cause the condition to wor-sen).
Information Brand Generic Label Rating
Minocin Minocin Minocycline On-Label
Flagyl tablets Flagyl Metronidazole Off-Label
Amoxil Amoxil Amoxicillin On-Label
Isotretinoin Accutane Isotretinoin On-Label

Doryx (Doxycycline), Sumycin (Tetracycline), Ilosone (Erythromycin), Alesse (Levonorgestrel), Apri (Desogestrel)


No restrictions.


No special diet. Avoid spicy foods, alcohol or anything that causes the face to flush.

Notify your physician if

  • You or a family member has symptoms of acne rosacea.
  • Inflammation worsens despite treatment.

Last updated 18 December 2015


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