Rosacea (Acne rosacea) is a Common Skin Disorder Affecting Millions of People.

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Rosacea (Acne rosacea): Skin Disorder

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Rosacea (ro·sa·ce·a), some times also referred to as Acne rosacea, is a recurring inflammatory skin disorder, usually isolated to the area of the nose, cheeks, and forehead. Rosacea is characterised by facial flushes, swelling, dilation of capillaries, pimples, and a reddened appearance.

Rosacea: A Common Skin Disorder





Rosacea (Acne rosacea)

What is Rosacea and How is it Diagnosed?

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a common skin condition that usually only affects the face and eyes. However, other areas that can be affected are the scalp, neck, ears, chest and back. Rosacea is characterized by redness, pimples, and broken blood vessels, rosacea tends to begin after middle age and is more common in fair-skinned people.

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

Rosacea often begins with easy blushing and flushing of the facial skin. Eventually, redness will persist around the nose area, extending to the rest of the face. Rosacea has a variety of clinical symptoms and is classified into the following four types, based on these different symptoms (UMM, 2006):




frequent episodes of blushing and flushing of the face and neck

Vascular rosacea (Stage I)

swelling of blood vessels under the facial skin, leading to swollen, warm skin (common in women)

Inflammatory rosacea (Stage II)

formation of pimples and enlarged blood vessels on the face

Rhinophyma (Stage III)

enlarged oil glands in the nose and cheeks that cause an enlarged, bulbous red nose (sometimes referred to as “Brandy Nose”).

Stage I, II and III

Stages I, II and III of Rosacea (Photos from University of UTAH

Apart from the physical symptoms, patients suffering from Rosacea are often also affected psychologically. Low-self esteem and low self-confidence often cause patients to avoid public contact.

In addition, approximately 50 percent of those affected by rosacea will have eye involvement. Eye symptoms may include (UMM):

  • redness
  • burning
  • tearing
  • inflamed eyelids
  • sensation of a foreign object in the eye

How is rosacea diagnosed?

Irrespective of the medical system used, rosacea is usually diagnosed by means of taking a complete medical history and conducting a physical examination.


Causes of Rosacea

Causes of rosacea as identified by orthodox medicine

The aetiology of rosacea is unknown, although associations with impaired facial venous drainage, an increase in hair mites (Demodex folliculorum), and Helicobacter pylori infection have been proposed (Merck, 2006). The basic disturbance seems to be one of vasomotor control. Rosacea most commonly affects patients aged 30 to 50 with fair complexions, most notably those of Irish and Northern European descent, but it affects and is probably under-recognized in darker-skinned patients. The age of onset helps distinguish rosacea from acne (Merck, 2006).

Causes of rosacea as identified by traditional medicine (alternative medicine)

Unlike orthodox medicine, most of the traditional medicines such as Chinese medicine, do not just look at the skin itself, but rather the underlying reasons for the resulting skin condition(s).

Traditional Chinese medicine, for example, considers flushing to be either of the true heat or a false heat type. That is an imbalance exists in the body that causes heat to rise to the face and this imbalance then causes the symptom of flushing, redness, etc. This heat can be due to many underlying systemic causes, which we will not discuss in this article, however, the result whether from deficiency of excess heat can result in the condition referred to as rosacea.

Western herbal medicine would equally investigate underlying causes such as possible liver problems, etc. and utilise blood cleansing herbs, as well as liver and kidney tonics.

In addition, irrespective of which modality is used to treat the condition, dietary measures would also need to be implemented. Often patients report that some foods can facilitate a worsening of symptoms as well as substances such as coffee, alcohol and other drinks.

However, not everyone who suffers from rosacea will react the same to these foods and drinks.

Treatments for Rosacea

Treatment for rosacea using orthodox medicine:

The goal of treatment is to control the symptoms associated with rosacea. Specific treatment for rosacea will be determined by your physician and may include (UMM):

  • diet modifications (i.e., avoiding foods that dilate the skin's blood vessels, such as caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol)
  • antibiotics
  • cortisone cream
  • laser surgery (for severe rhinophyma)
  • use of sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) or 13 or higher - to protect the skin against ultraviolet A and B light rays

Treatment of rosacea using alternative medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine provides a successful treatment approach to this condition. The combination of herbal prescriptions and acupuncture has proven effective and is a highly recommended treatment approach. Consult a qualified physician of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Western Herbal Medicine is another highly effective treatment approach. There are several herbs that have been studies and have shown to be effective in the treatment of rosacea. Some of these herbs include: Echinacea purpurea, Burdock, Feverfew and others.

Adjunct therapy including dietary considerations may help symptom flare-ups and identify possible allergies to specific foods. Supplements such as B12, Hydrochloric acid tablets and others may be of benefit.

Another key factor in rosacea is to ensure adequate hydration. Drinking of 2 litres of water per day is essential to keep the body well hydrated and functioning efficiently.

Supportive treatment

The use of a daily skin care regime, using natural skin care products that help to nourish the skin tissue, reduce inflammation and aid in the healing and repair of the skin, is a good adjunct to primary treatment approaches, such as described earlier.

Examples of such skin care systems include Skin care systems for sensitive and mature skin.


Recent biological research suggests that vascular changes may play a major role in the development of rosacea. Degradation of collagen and elastin, particularly by certain enzymes (metalloproteinases), under the action of agents such as ultraviolet light, also contributes to the disease process of rosacea. This degradation leads to production of peptides which, by reacting with immune cells receptors, releases enzymes and free radicals. The presence of these free radicals is thought to deteriorate the elastic and collagen fibers of lymphatic and blood vessels, possibly triggering facial redness and flushing (Rigopoulos, et al., 2005).


Merck Manual Professional - last visited Nov. 2006.

Rigopoulos, D. Kalogeromitros, D. Gregoriou, S. Pacouret, J.M. Koch, C. Fisher, N. Bachmann, K. Brown, M. Schwarz, E. Camel, E. and Katsambas, A. (2005) Randomized placebo-controlled trial of a flavonoid-rich plant extract-based cream in the treatment of rosacea. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology. Volume 19 Page 564.

University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM)- Rosacea - last visited, Nov. 2006.

University of UTAH 2006 - Photos of rosacea stages I, II & III - last visited Nov. 2006

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All our skin care products have been developed primarily to help our patients with a wide range of skin care problems for the past 30 years.

Susan and Danny practice Western herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Remedial body therapies at their private practice in the lower Blue Mountains, West of Sydney.

Their combined experience in treating skin and other disorders is well over 50 years and they're happy to help you regain your optimal health.

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