Rosacea is a common chronic skin disease, which is characterized by redness in the face, sometimes accompanied by pimples. It can lead to couperosis, the characteristic small capillaries on the cheeks. Rosacea is a persistent but usually harmless condition, that is well treatable.


The cause of rosacea is unknown. The severity of rosacea can be influenced by external factors, making the symptoms increase. Examples are heat, sunlight, cosmetics, skin care products and some medicines. Medicines that contain corticosteroids (adrenal cortical hormones) can cause or worsen rosacea, both by internal use and when applied to the skin.
The role of food as a cause has never been demonstrated. But (temporary) worsening of redness may occur by drinking alcohol and eating spicy foods. Rosacea is not contagious.


The main signs and symptoms of rosacea are:

These symptoms are especially visible at the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. About half of the people with rosacea also suffer from eye diseases: inflammation of the eyelids, cornea and conjunctiva. This may cause, for example, dry or burning eyes, watery eyes and the sensation of sand in the eyes.
Apart from these symptoms, a person can also suffer from eczema, fluid retention in the skin (edema) and an increase in connective tissue in the skin, making the skin feel hard. The latter can, particularly in older men, lead to a ‘cauliflower nose’, but that’s rare. The skin can be extra sensitive to touch and external influences, such as heat.


Usually, the doctor can easily recognize rosacea and no other examination is needed than the external inspection of the skin. All kinds of defects in the face, associated with redness, dilated blood vessels and/or papules, can sometimes cause confusion. Therefore, a skin biopsy will sometimes be required for microscopic tissue examination. In a single case, the dermatologist will do allergy tests to exclude an additional allergy for e.g. cosmetics.


It’s not possible to cure rosacea. The treatment is focused on suppressing the symptoms. Upon lumps, pimples and/or eye symptoms, the following treatments are available:

When there is a red thickened skin on the nose, laser treatment, freezing and plastic surgery are possible.


Although the symptoms of rosacea can be very nasty and cosmetically very inconvenient, rosacea is not a serious disease. Except in case of some eye defects, no complications occur. A satisfactory result is generally achieved with the treatments described above. Rosacea, however, has a tendency to come back after stopping the therapy with cream, gel, tablets or capsules. In most patients, the number of times that the disease flares up will reduce over years and also the severity of flare-ups will decrease.