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Rosacea is a long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face. It's more common in women and people with lighter skin, but symptoms can be worse in men. Treatment can help control the symptoms.

Check if you have rosacea

The first signs of rosacea include:

  • redness (blushing) across your nose, cheeks, forehead and chin that comes and goes
  • a burning or stinging feeling when using water or skincare products

The redness may be harder to see on darker skin.

Close up of red patches caused by rosacea on the cheeks of a man with white skin.
As rosacea gets worse, your cheeks, nose, skin and forehead will be red all the time
Broken blood vessels caused by rosacea on the cheek of a woman with white skin.
Tiny broken blood vessels that do not go away may appear on your skin
Pink and red bumps with some bumps filled with a yellowish liquid on the cheek of a woman with white skin.
You may get small pink or red bumps. Sometimes these become filled with a yellowish liquid

Other symptoms can include:

  • dry skin
  • swelling, especially around the eyes
  • yellow-orange patches on the skin
  • sore eyelids or crusts around roots of eyelashes – this could be blepharitis
  • thickened skin, mainly on the nose (usually appears after many years)

Causes or triggers of rosacea

It is not known what causes rosacea, but some triggers can make symptoms worse.

Common triggers for rosacea include:

  • alcohol
  • spicy foods
  • cheese
  • caffeine
  • hot drinks
  • aerobic exercise like running

If you're not sure it's rosacea

Rosacea can look a lot like other conditions, such as:

When to contact your GP

Contact your GP if you have rosacea and:

  • your eye is painful
  • your vision is blurred
  • you're sensitive to light
  • you have a red eye
  • your eye feels gritty

These could be signs of keratitis, which can be serious if not treated urgently.

Treatment for rosacea from your GP

Rosacea cannot be cured but treatment from your GP can help control the symptoms. It can get worse if it's not treated.

Your GP may suggest:

  • prescriptions for creams and gels you put on your skin
  • taking antibiotics for 6 to 16 weeks
  • IPL (intense pulsed light) treatment

Your GP may refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist) if treatments are not working.

Things you can do to help

Rosacea is not caused by poor hygiene and it is not contagious. But there are things you can try to help with symptoms.

If you know that a trigger makes symptoms worse, try to avoid it as much as possible.


  • wear a high SPF sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day

  • try to avoid heat, sunlight or humid conditions if possible

  • try to cover your face in cold weather

  • use gentle skincare products for sensitive skin

  • clean your eyelids at least once a day if you have blepharitis

  • take steps to manage stress


  • do not drink alcohol

  • do not have hot drinks

  • do not have too much caffeine (found in tea, coffee and chocolate)

  • do not eat cheese

  • do not eat spicy food

  • do not do too much aerobic exercise, like running

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 26 March 2021
Next review due: 26 March 2024