Rosacea typically starts with facial flushing, often triggered by factors such as genetics and certain bacteria. Although there’s no cure, topical treatments and oral antibiotics can often help manage the symptoms.

Rosacea is a common chronic skin condition that causes redness or darkness and visible blood vessels, often on the face. Although its exact cause is unknown, several factors can trigger its onset.

These factors may include a combination of genetics, an overactive immune system, certain bacteria, and environmental factors like extreme weather.

Read on to learn more about the initial causes of rosacea, including its early symptoms, prevention, and possible treatment options.

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The exact initial cause of rosacea is unknown, but researchers believe that several factors may play a part in the condition’s onset. These include:

  • Irregularities in facial blood vessels: Irregularities in the blood vessels of the face, such as dilation, may lead to increased blood flow to the skin’s surface, causing redness or darkness and visible blood vessels.
  • Demodex mites: These mites live on human skin and are typically harmless. However, people with rosacea often have higher numbers of Demodex mites than others, suggesting a possible link.
  • Bacterial involvement: The presence and increased activity of certain bacteria, such as Helicobacter pylori — commonly present in the gut — may lead to inflammation or indirectly affect the skin’s appearance, causing rosacea.
  • Genetics: Research indicates that rosacea often appears in families. If your parents or siblings have rosacea, you may have a higher risk of developing it.
  • Overactive immune system: People with rosacea may also experience an overactive immune response to certain skin bacteria or external triggers, such as sun exposure, leading to the inflammation characteristic of rosacea.

Rosacea symptoms can vary depending on your skin tone. However, it typically starts with a tendency to flush or blush easily.

Light skin tones

For people with light skin tones, rosacea often begins with persistent redness on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead. This redness may look like a constant blush or sunburn that doesn’t go away.

You may also notice small, visible blood vessels, feel warmth or tenderness in the affected areas, and observe papules or pus-filled bumps resembling acne.

Dark skin tones

With dark skin tones, people can easily miss the early symptoms of rosacea or confuse them with other skin conditions, such as allergic reactions. Instead of redness, you may notice areas of dusky brown or purple discoloration.

The skin may feel warm or tender, and while visible blood vessels are less common, you may also experience bumps or acne-like breakouts.

If you notice any of these symptoms, consider talking with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. They can then suggest a treatment plan to help manage your symptoms.

Several factors can trigger or worsen your rosacea symptoms. It’s important to remember that triggers are often different for each person.

Triggers for rosacea can include:

  • sun exposure
  • extreme hot or cold weather
  • emotional stress
  • hot beverages and spicy foods
  • alcohol consumption
  • skin care products containing certain ingredients, such as alcohol and witch hazel
  • intense physical activity

Preventing rosacea involves identifying and avoiding your triggers.

Possible strategies may include:

  • using gentle skin care products for sensitive skin, avoiding known irritants
  • protecting your skin from the sun with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • wearing protective clothing, such as a sun hat in the heat and layers during the cold
  • managing stress with relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises
  • monitoring your diet to identify and avoid foods that trigger flares, like spicy foods
  • staying cool with a fan or air conditioning during hot weather

Although rosacea currently has no cure, some treatment approaches can help manage your symptoms depending on the condition’s severity and subtype.

These approaches include:

  • Topical treatments: Prescription creams and gels containing metronidazole, azelaic acid, or ivermectin can reduce flushing and inflammation.
  • Oral antibiotics: A healthcare professional may prescribe medications like low doxycycline for moderate to severe cases to control bacterial growth and reduce inflammation.
  • Laser therapy: Pulsed dye lasers and intense pulsed light treatments can help reduce visible blood vessels and persistent color.
  • Ocular treatment: For rosacea affecting the eyes, a healthcare professional may prescribe antibiotic eye treatment and recommend warm compresses, eyelid hygiene, omega-3 fatty acids, and artificial tears.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Avoiding known triggers and adopting a gentle skin care routine can help you manage rosacea.

Consider speaking with a doctor if you experience:

  • persistent skin redness or darkness that doesn’t improve
  • visible blood vessels
  • swelling or thickening of the skin
  • eye irritation or vision problems
  • severe acne-like breakouts that acne treatments don’t resolve

A doctor can create a treatment plan to help alleviate and manage your symptoms.

The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about rosacea.

Can rosacea just suddenly appear?

It’s possible for rosacea to just suddenly appear. It most commonly occurs in females after the age of 30 years.

How to calm a rosacea flare-up?

Methods that can help calm a rosacea flare include staying hydrated, using a fragrance-free moisturizer, and placing a damp, cool cloth on the affected areas.

Can rosacea go away?

Rosacea can’t go away, as there’s currently no cure for the skin condition. However, several treatment options — such as topical creams — can help you manage the symptoms.

Rosacea often starts with facial flushing triggered by various factors. Its symptoms can vary depending on your skin tone.

Possible causes can include:

  • genetics
  • certain bacteria
  • an overactive immune response
  • environmental factors

Treatments may include topical creams, oral antibiotics, or laser therapy, depending on its severity.

If you notice persistent coloration or irritation on your face, consider speaking with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.