Rosacea Symptoms

Rosacea is a skin condition that primarily affects the face. Rosacea symptoms can affect people in different ways with varying levels of severity affecting different areas of the face. However, most people with rosacea will only experience some, rather than all, of the possible symptoms. These symptoms are explained below.


One of the first signs of rosacea is frequent flushing of the face. It may be the only symptom you experience for months or years before any other symptoms develop. A flush can last up to five minutes and be accompanied with an unpleasant feeling of heat. It may spread to your neck and chest.


A classic sign of rosacea is an almost permanent redness (erythema) to parts of the face that looks like sunburn. Episodes of flushing are sometimes followed by facial redness that doesn’t go away.

Spots, Papules and Pustules

Small, solid, lumpy, red spots (papules) and small, pus-filled cysts (pustules) may develop on the skin and are often mistaken for acne. The difference between acne and rosacea is that with acne there are blackheads present. The papules and pustules may come and go, but in some cases remain continually until treated.

Visible Blood Vessels

The small blood vessels near the surface of the skin become visible because they get enlarged in rosacea. They usually appear on the cheek and nose area and are more noticeable as a flush subsides. The blood vessels look like fine red lines coursing through the surface of the skin.

Stinging or Burning

A feeling of stinging or burning of the face is a commonly reported symptom. There may also be mild itching and a feeling of tightness.

Irritated Eyes

The eyes may become irritated, bloodshot or watery. This particular symptom is known as ocular rosacea. There may also a feeling as if something is in your eyes. Your eyes may also experience burning, stinging, itching, dryness or sensitivity to light. Your eyelids may get problems like cysts, styes or inflammation (blepharitis). In the most severe cases, there is a possibility of corneal damage and vision loss.

Red Plaques

Red raised patches or plaques may develop on the skin, whilst the surrounding skin remains unchanged.

Dry and Rough Skin

It is thought that about half of people with rosacea experience very dry, flaky and rough skin.


Facial swelling occurs when there is a build up of fluid in the facial skin. This may accompany other symptoms or occur on its own.

Rhinophyma (bulbous, bumpy nose)

This is an uncommon symptom that occurs more often in men than women. Rhinophyma or “whisky nose” occurs when excess tissue develops around the nose and thickens. This causes the nose to take on a large and bulbous appearance. In severe cases this can cause distortion and disfigurement to the nose.

Rosacea is not a particularly painful or itchy skin condition and serious complications are uncommon. Permanent damage to the face, such as scarring rarely occurs. However, for some people, rosacea can be unsightly and distressing because they may sometimes be accused of having a drinking problem because of their red face and visible blood vessels.