A chronic skin disease that affects the middle third of the face with persistent redness over the areas of the face and nose that normally blush: mainly the forehead, the chin and the lower half of the nose. The tiny blood vessels in these areas enlarge (dilate) and become more visible through the skin, appearing like tiny red lines (called telangiectasias). Pimples can occur that look like teenage acne. Unlike acne, rosacea is not primarily a plague of teenagers. It occurs most often in adults (ages 30 to 50), especially those with fair skin, and affects both sexes but tends to be more common in women but worse in men. Unlike acne, there are no blackheads or whiteheads in rosacea. When rosacea first develops, it may appear, then disappear, and then reappear. However, in time the skin fails to return to its normal color and the enlarged blood vessels and pimples arrive. Rosacea rarely reverses itself. It lasts for years and, untreated, it worsens. Untreated rosacea can cause a condition called rhinophyma (ryno-fee-ma), literally growth of the nose, characterized by a bulbous, enlarged red nose and puffy cheeks (like the old comedian W.C. Fields). There may also be thick bumps on the lower half of the nose and the nearby cheek areas. Rhinophyma occurs mainly in men. Another complication of advanced rosacea affects the eyes. About half of all people with rosacea feel burning and grittiness of the eyes (conjunctivitis). If this is not treated, the complications of what is called rosacea keratitis may impair vision. Rosacea can be treated but not cured. Over-the-counter medications for acne can be a hazard; they can irritate the skin in rosacea. Topical antibiotics (such as metronidazole) and oral antibiotics (such as tetracycline) are often used. Short-term topical cortisone (steroid) preparations of the right strength may also be used to reduce local inflammation. Avoiding smoking and food and drink (such as spicy food, hot beverages and alcoholic drinks) that cause flushing helps minimize the blood vessel enlargement. Limiting exposure to sunlight and to extreme hot and cold temperatures also helps relieve rosacea. Rubbing the face tends to irritate the reddened skin. Some cosmetics and hair sprays may aggravate redness and swelling. Facial products such as soap, moisturizers and sunscreens should be free of alcohol or other irritating ingredients. Moisturizers should be applied very gently after any topical medication has dried. When going outdoors, sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher are needed. Cover-up make up is used for the telangiectasias. Telangiectasias can be treated with a small electric needle, a laser or surgery to close off the dilated blood vessels.
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Chronic vascular and follicular dilation involving the nose and contiguous portions of the cheeks; may vary from mild but persistent erythema to extensive hyperplasia of the sebaceous glands, seen especially in men as rhinophyma and by deep-seated papules and pustules; accompanied by telangiectasia at the affected erythematous sites. SYN: acne r.. [L. rosaceus, rosy]
- granulomatous r. papular lesions in r., characterized microscopically by perifollicular granulomas with central necrosis and scattered giant cells. Lupus miliaris disseminatus faciei is probably a form of granulomatous r.. SYN: r.-like tuberculid, tuberculoid r..

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ro·sa·cea rō-'zā-sh(ē-)ə n a chronic inflammatory disorder involving esp. the skin of the nose, forehead, and cheeks that is characterized by congestion, flushing, telangiectasia, and marked nodular swelling of tissues esp. of the nose called also acne rosacea

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a chronic inflammatory disease of the face in which the skin becomes abnormally flushed. At times it becomes pustular and there may be an associated keratitis. The disease occurs in both sexes and at all ages but is most common in women in their thirties; the cause is unknown. Treatment with oral tetracycline or topical metronidazole is very effective.

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ro·sa·cea (ro-zaґshe-ə) [L. feminine of rosaceus rose-colored, shortened from acne rosacea] a chronic skin disease, usually involving the middle third of the face, characterized by persistent erythema and often by telangiectasia with acute episodes of edema, papules, and pustules; it affects both men and women, but is often more severe in men. It is associated with an excess of cathelicidin and stratum corneum tryptic enzyme, which results in the formation of an abnormal inflammatory peptide that is responsible for the lesions. Complications include rosacea keratitis and rhinophyma. Called also acne rosacea.


Medical dictionary. 2011.

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