Health A-Z

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There are four progressive stages of rosacea.

  • First stage Flushing and intermittent facial redness

  • Second stage Persistent redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead

  • Third stage Small, pus-colored or red bumps, along with tiny blood vessels that appear as red, thin lines called telangiectasias

  • Fourth stage Bumps and skin thickening of the nose

Here's a detailed look at the most common symptoms of rosacea:

  • Redness Facial skin redness looks like a sunburn or blush. This is caused by flushing, which occurs when excess blood rapidly flows through the skin's blood vessels and the vessels enlarge to handle this flow. Gradually, this redness becomes more noticeable and does not go away. Facial skin also may become very dry.

  • Pimples and Papules Small, red and solid "papules" or pus-filled "pimples" may appear on the face, similar to those found in teen-age acne. In fact, rosacea has often been nicknamed adult acne or acne rosacea. Rosacea has different causes than acne, however, and adults with rosacea do not have the whiteheads or blackheads (called comedones) commonly seen in acne.

  • Red lines (telangiectasias) Facial blushing or flushing causes small blood vessels to expand and eventually to show through the skin. These enlarged blood vessels appear as thin red lines (telangiectasias) on the face, especially on the cheeks. At first, telangiectasias may be hidden by the redness of flushing or blushing, but they usually reappear after this redness fades.

  • Nasal bumps Left untreated, rosacea eventually can create small, knobby bumps on the nose, which make the nose appear swollen. This condition is more common among men and is called rhinophyma.

  • Eye irritation Red, dry eyes develop in about half of people with rosacea. Eye involvement is usually relatively mild. Rarely, severe involvement of the eyes develops. If untreated, it can affect vision.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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