Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by facial redness, swelling, and bumps. While there is no definitive cure for rosacea, there are several treatments available to help manage the symptoms and reduce flare-ups.

Here, we’ll explore what causes rosacea, common symptoms, and treatment options. By understanding more about this condition, you can better manage it and keep your skin looking its best!

History and Definition

Rosacea is a skin condition that has been recognized for centuries. In fact, the ancient Greeks and Romans described the red-faced appearance that is characteristic of rosacea. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the term “rosacea” was first used to describe this condition.

In the early 20th century, the famous dermatologist Dr. James C. White provided the first detailed description of rosacea in a medical journal. He described it as a chronic inflammatory condition that primarily affects the face and is characterized by facial redness, small bumps, and visible blood vessels.

Over the years, our understanding of rosacea has continued to evolve. In the 1960s, a subtype of rosacea known as ocular rosacea was identified, which affects the eyes as well as the skin. More recently, researchers have made significant progress in understanding the underlying causes of rosacea, which has led to the development of new and effective treatments.


The symptoms of rosacea can vary from person to person, but typically include one or more of the following:

  • Facial redness: The most common symptom of rosacea is facial redness, which may be persistent or come and go. The redness may be confined to certain areas of the face, such as the cheeks or nose, or it may cover the entire face.

  • Small bumps or pimples: Some people with rosacea develop small, red, pus-filled bumps or pimples on their faces. This is known as papulopustular rosacea.

  • Visible blood vessels: In some cases, rosacea can cause tiny blood vessels to become visible on the surface of the skin. These are called telangiectasias, and they can appear as thin red lines on the face.

  • Thickened skin: Over time, rosacea can cause the skin on the nose, chin, forehead, or cheeks to become thickened and bumpy. This is known as phymatous rosacea.

  • Eye problems: About half of all people with rosacea also develop eye problems, such as dryness, irritation, or redness in the eyes. This is known as ocular rosacea.

  • Burning or stinging: Some people with rosacea experience a burning or stinging sensation on their faces, particularly when they are exposed to certain triggers.


The symptoms of rosacea can be mild or severe, and they may come and go over time. In some cases, the symptoms may worsen if left untreated. If you suspect that you have rosacea, it’s important to see a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.


The exact cause of rosacea is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Some of the factors that may contribute to the development of rosacea include:

  • Abnormalities in the immune system: Research suggests that abnormalities in the immune system may play a role in the development of rosacea. In particular, there may be an overreaction of the immune system to certain triggers, leading to inflammation and other symptoms.


  • Genetics: Rosacea appears to run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component to the condition. However, the specific genes involved have not yet been identified.


  • Environmental triggers: Certain environmental factors can trigger or exacerbate rosacea symptoms, including exposure to sunlight, hot or cold temperatures, wind, and humidity. Other triggers may include stress, certain foods (such as spicy foods or alcohol), and some medications.


  • Demodex mites: Some studies have suggested that a type of mite called Demodex, which lives on the skin of most people, may be more abundant in people with rosacea. However, it is not clear whether these mites actually cause rosacea or are simply more common in people who have it.


  • Blood vessel abnormalities: Abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face may also contribute to the development of rosacea. For example, the blood vessels may dilate too easily, leading to facial redness.

While the exact cause of rosacea is not known, a combination of these factors likely contributes to its development. Understanding the causes of rosacea is important for developing effective treatments and managing the condition over the long term.


Diagnosing rosacea involves a physical examination of the skin and a review of the patient’s medical history. There are no specific tests or diagnostic criteria for rosacea, so a diagnosis is usually based on the presence of certain signs and symptoms.

In addition to the physical examination, the dermatologist or plastic surgeon may also ask the patient about their medical history and any medications they are currently taking. They may also ask about any potential triggers for the patient’s symptoms, such as exposure to sunlight or certain foods.

If the doctor suspects that the patient has rosacea, they may perform additional tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as lupus or eczema. These tests may include a skin biopsy or blood tests.


Although there is no cure for rosacea, there are various treatment options available to manage its symptoms. The appropriate treatment plan will depend on the severity and type of rosacea and the patient’s individual needs.

Here are some common treatment options for rosacea:


  • Topical medications: Topical medications, such as metronidazole, azelaic acid, and brimonidine, can help reduce inflammation and redness associated with rosacea. These medications are applied directly to the skin and are available in the form of gels, creams, and lotions.


  • Oral medications: Oral antibiotics, such as doxycycline or tetracycline, can help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of rosacea. In some cases, low-dose isotretinoin may also be used.


  • Sun protection: Protecting the skin from the sun is essential for managing rosacea. Patients should wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30, wear hats, and avoid spending time outdoors during peak sun hours.


  • Lifestyle modifications: Avoiding triggers that can exacerbate rosacea symptoms, such as hot beverages, spicy foods, and alcohol, can also be helpful. Stress management techniques, such as meditation or yoga, may also be beneficial.


In some cases, surgical or procedural treatments may be recommended to treat rosacea. These treatments include:

  • Laser therapy: Laser therapy can be used to treat visible blood vessels, redness, and thickened skin associated with rosacea. The laser delivers focused light energy to the skin, targeting and destroying abnormal blood vessels or thickened tissue.


  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy: Similar to laser therapy, IPL therapy uses intense pulses of light to target blood vessels and reduce redness.


  • Electrosurgery: Electrosurgery involves using a high-frequency electric current to remove thickened, bumpy skin.

The results of treatment for rosacea vary depending on the severity of the condition and the type of treatment used. In general, patients can expect a reduction in redness, inflammation, and other symptoms of rosacea. Patients who undergo surgical or procedural treatments may experience some redness, swelling, or discomfort immediately after the procedure, but this typically resolves within a few days.

It’s important to note that while treatment can help manage the symptoms of rosacea, there is no cure for the condition. Patients may need ongoing treatment and lifestyle modifications to manage their symptoms and prevent flares. It’s also important to continue protecting the skin from the sun and avoiding triggers that can exacerbate symptoms.

Risk Factors

While the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, several factors can increase a person’s risk of developing the condition. These risk factors include:

  • Age: Rosacea typically develops in adults over the age of 30. The risk of developing the condition increases with age.


  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop rosacea, although men tend to experience more severe symptoms.


  • Family history: A family history of rosacea may increase a person’s risk of developing the condition.


  • Skin type: People with fair skin are more likely to develop rosacea than those with darker skin tones.


  • Environmental factors: Exposure to certain environmental factors, such as sunlight, wind, and extreme temperatures, can trigger rosacea symptoms.


  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, may increase the risk of developing rosacea.


  • Medications: Some medications, such as topical steroids, may increase the risk of developing rosacea.


  • Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle factors, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, may increase the risk of developing rosacea.

It’s important to note that having one or more of these risk factors does not necessarily mean that a person will develop rosacea. However, being aware of these risk factors can help individuals take steps to manage their risk and prevent the development or exacerbation of rosacea symptoms.


While rosacea itself is not a dangerous condition, it can lead to several complications if left untreated or if it is not managed properly. These complications may include:

  • Eye problems: Ocular rosacea is a type of rosacea that affects the eyes. It can cause dryness, redness, and irritation of the eyes, as well as blurry vision and sensitivity to light. If left untreated, ocular rosacea can lead to more serious eye problems, such as corneal damage and vision loss.


  • Rhinophyma: Rhinophyma is a rare complication of rosacea that involves the thickening of the skin on the nose. This can cause the nose to become enlarged, bulbous, and disfigured. Rhinophyma is more common in men and may be more likely to occur in those with severe, long-standing rosacea.


  • Psychological effects: Rosacea can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, causing embarrassment, low self-esteem, and anxiety. Some people with rosacea may avoid social situations or develop depression as a result of their condition.


  • Infections: Rosacea can weaken the skin’s protective barrier, making it more vulnerable to bacterial infections. In some cases, these infections can lead to cellulitis, a serious skin infection that can spread to other parts of the body.

It’s important to seek treatment for rosacea if you are experiencing symptoms or if you are at risk of developing complications. With proper management, most people with rosacea can manage their symptoms and prevent complications from occurring.

When to See a Doctor

If you are experiencing symptoms of rosacea, it’s important to see a doctor, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Early diagnosis and treatment of rosacea can help prevent the condition from worsening and reduce the risk of complications. Your doctor can recommend a treatment plan that is appropriate for your individual needs and can help you manage your symptoms effectively.

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Treating rosacea will vary depending on the severity of your condition and your treatment plan. It’s important to work closely with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for your needs.


The first step in treating rosacea is to consult with a doctor, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and may ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. They may also perform tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms. Based on this information, your doctor can diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.

Lifestyle modifications

In many cases, lifestyle modifications can help reduce the frequency and severity of rosacea symptoms. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid triggers that can exacerbate your symptoms, such as alcohol, spicy foods, and extreme temperatures. They may also recommend that you use gentle skincare products and avoid using products that contain alcohol or other irritants. In addition, they may recommend that you wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.


If lifestyle modifications alone are not enough to manage your rosacea symptoms, your doctor may recommend medications. Several medications may be used to treat rosacea, including topical creams, oral antibiotics, and oral medications that help reduce inflammation. Your doctor will recommend the appropriate medication based on the severity of your condition and your individual needs.

Procedural Treatments

In some cases, procedural treatments may be recommended to manage rosacea symptoms. These treatments may include laser therapy, intense pulsed light therapy, or other procedures that help reduce redness and inflammation. Your doctor will recommend the appropriate procedure based on the severity of your condition and your individual needs.

Follow-Up Care

After treatment, it’s important to follow up with your doctor to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. Your doctor may recommend periodic check-ups to monitor your condition and ensure that your treatment is still effective.

In general, the goal of rosacea treatment is to manage your symptoms and prevent complications from occurring. With proper management, most people with rosacea can lead healthy, active lives. If you have questions about rosacea treatment or would like to learn more about managing your condition, be sure to speak with your doctor.


In conclusion, rosacea is a common yet often misunderstood skin disorder that can manifest itself in many different ways. It is important to recognize the signs of rosacea and take action as soon as possible to reduce its symptoms and prevent it from getting worse. While treatments vary depending on the type and severity of the condition, there are effective therapies available to help manage rosacea. It is also important to note that lifestyle changes such as avoiding triggers and limiting sun exposure can greatly improve the quality of life for those living with this chronic condition. With proper treatment, people with rosacea can live normal lives without fear or embarrassment about their skin.


Dr. Colin Hong is a renowned plastic surgeon based in Toronto, with a wealth of experience spanning over 35 years. He specializes in cosmetic, plastic, and reconstructive surgeries, and is committed to providing his patients with high-quality care at an affordable cost.

If you’re considering cosmetic, plastic, or reconstructive surgery in Toronto, North York, or Markham, we encourage you to contact Dr. Hong’s office today. You can reach us by phone at (416) 222-6986 or by email at to request a consultation.

To ensure a timely response, please provide us with your full name, email address, and phone number. It’s also important to obtain a referral from your family doctor to set up an appointment with Dr. Colin Hong to discuss your rosacea treatment options.

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