Rosacea Types

Rosacea is a disorder of the facial blood vessels. Blood vessels just below the skin dilate and enlarge, causing blotchy redness and excessive flushing.

Rosacea is characterized by red, pimple-like bumps and excessive flushing of the face. The redness is caused by the dilatation of small blood vessels, a condition known as telangiectasia.

In its early stages, excessive flushing is often mistaken for sunburn or blushing. In fact, a tendency towards blushing increases the likelihood that a person might develop the condition. The acne-like papules, or bumps, may be swollen and hard. Unlike adult acne, however, rosacea does not produce blackheads, whiteheads or cysts.

Common Symptoms Associated with Rosacea

Erythema: Erythema refers to patchy red skin rashes and is commonly associated with rosacea. Like the excessive flushing associated with telangiectasia, areas of erythema may be mistaken for blushing, sunburn or a change in complexion. Often the rash feels inflamed and hot. Erythema may worsen over time, becoming more prominent unless treated.

Conjunctivitis: Rosacea can affect the eyes as well as the skin, causing conjunctivitis and other associated eye problems. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the inner membranes of the eyelids. Sufferers may have sore, red eyelids, experience a “gritty” feeling around the eyelids, or wake up with crusty build up on the eyelids after a night’s sleep.

The T-Zone

Rosacea usually occurs in the “T-zone”: the forehead, nose and mouth. The area is called the T-zone because it forms a T-like shape. The cheeks may also be affected and, in rare cases, the arms or the trunk of the body are involved.

Types of Rosacea

Acne Rosacea: Acne rosacea is a misleading term: rosacea and acne are two entirely different conditions, although they can and do appear together. Clogged skin pores and bacterial infections cause acne. Rosacea occurs when blood vessels move to just below the skin’s surface, leading to blotchy red patches. These blotches fade and then return, becoming more permanent over time.

The blackheads, whiteheads and pimples associated with acne are not associated with rosacea. Red bumps called papules are. These papules are usually solid and hard. The papules range in size from small bumps that resemble the measles or chicken pox, all the way to larger, penny-shaped nodules. Left untreated, larger nodules can cause rhinophyma (see below).

Vascular rosacea: Vascular rosacea is more common in women than men. The condition is due to swollen blood vessels in the face, resulting in “puffy ” skin that feels warm and uncomfortable.

Ocular Rosacea: About half of all sufferers have symptoms of ocular rosacea, where symptoms affect the eyes. The eyelids may become inflamed and develop small red bumps, or develop scales and crusts after a night’s sleep. The eyes may become bloodshot with a “gritty” feeling, as if a piece of sand were in the eye. Sensitivity to bright light is common. Occasionally, eyelash loss occurs. Although rare, serious complications can develop from this condition. An inflammation of the cornea called keratitis can occur. Without treatment, keratitis can lead to corneal damage, which can cause impaired vision, and eventually, blindness if the corneal problems progress unchecked.

Ocular Rosacea vs. Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that causes yellowish scales to develop on the scalp, the hairline and the eyebrows, is often confused with the crusting and scaling on the eyelids that occurs with ocular rosacea. A doctor should check any scaling around the eyes, as the potential side effects of ocular rosacea are more serious than those of seborrheic dermatitis.


Rhinophyma develops when severe rosacea is left untreated over a long period of time. The papules gradually increase in size. When these nodules converge on the nose, they give the nose a swollen, red appearance. Rhinophyma sufferers often have to deal with the widely held belief that a red, swollen nose is the sign of heavy alcohol consumption. In fact, alcoholism has nothing to do with the condition. Men are more likely than women to develop rhinophyma, although women may develop large nodules on the cheeks.

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