What is Rosacea?

Rosacea Causes, Symptoms and Cures

WC Fields. Silver Screen Collection for Getty Images

If you've noticed a red flush to your cheeks, visible blood vessels on your skin, or visible red blood vessels that branch across your face, you could be suffering from rosacea (pronounced roh-ZAY-sha), a common skin ailment that, according to the National Rosacea Society, affects about 14 million Americans.

Rosacea mostly affects people over the age of 30 and can be controlled with topical treatments or laser treatments.

It's not life-threatening and many, many people have it (including myself, former President Bill, Clinton and Prince William!). Here, we run down the basics.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Rosacea?

Ruddiness, redness to cheeks, chin, and forehead are common symptoms of rosacea. The redness may come and go and although it appears mostly on the face, it can also show up on the neck, ears and chest.

There are several subtypes of rosacea. In the early stages, cheeks easily flush, or appear constantly sunburned. Visible blood vessels may develop on the skin.

More developed types can involve bumps or pimples on the cheeks. A more severe form is seen mostly in men and shows up as a thickening of skin around the nose (think W.C. Fields, pictured here, and his trademark "bulbous nose"). This is called rhinophyma.

There is no set proof that rosacea worsens, so if you suffer from redness, you won't necessarily develop a bulbous nose if your rosacea goes untreated.

Who Gets Rosacea?

Research shows rosacea mainly affects people of both sexes over the age of 30. Rosacea also tends to affect people with fair skin. Studies show people of Irish or English descent may be susceptible to rosacea.

Because rosacea is a somewhat mysterious ailment, not many people are aware of it or know they have it.

The emotional effects of rosacea can be far worse than the physical effects. In a study reported by the National Rosacea Society, nearly 70 percent of rosacea patients said it lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem. Forty-one percent said the condition caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements.

What Causes Rosacea?

The causes of rosacea are unknown, but several theories abound, including sun damage, blood vessels too near the skin's surface and ethnicity.

Is There a Cure for Rosacea?

Rosacea can't be cured, but in most cases it's easily controlled.

How is Rosacea Treated?

Rosacea can be controlled with topical antibiotics including MetroGel and Rosac and oral antibiotics. Lasers can zap broken blood vessels and treat the overall redness. Better lasers are being developed each year.

To control flare-ups, doctors recommend usage of a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays (look for sunscreens with Mexoryl or Helioplex).

If you are suffering from rosacea, you should consult a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment options. A dermatologist can tailor the best treatment for your skin condition.

How to Cover Up Rosacea Using Foundation

To cover up redness from rosacea, simply choose a thicker foundation.

Light formulations don't offer enough coverage, but a thicker one will work better.

Read more in How Do I Find a Foundation to Cover My Rosacea?