Diagnosing Rosacea

Dermatologists at NYU Langone can diagnose rosacea by visually examining your skin and evaluating your symptoms to identify what may be triggering the condition. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness, flushing, inflammation, and blemishes. It typically affects adults older than age 30 and tends to appear on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin, though it may affect skin in other areas of the body. 

The first signs of rosacea include facial redness and flushing that may come and go. These early signs may be more noticeable in fair-skinned people, although rosacea affects people of all skin types. Without treatment, your skin may become permanently red, and small blood vessels beneath the skin may swell and become visible.

Rosacea can look like a mild facial sunburn that won’t go away. Often, this redness is accompanied by small red bumps, called papules, or pus-filled blemishes, called pustules. Rosacea blemishes can be confused with acne, but the two conditions are unrelated and require different treatment. 

In addition to redness and blemishes, persistent rosacea may cause bumpy, thickened skin on the nose or watery and irritated eyes. 

There is no known cause for rosacea. Symptoms are typically triggered by factors that vary from person to person, including sun exposure, alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine, and stress. Facial redness and flushing caused by these triggers is different from a flush caused by embarrassment or other emotions—that kind of blushing is prompted by an emotional reaction and is always temporary, whereas rosacea can cause redness that lingers even after a trigger has been removed. 

Physical Exam

In order to make the most precise diagnosis, an NYU Langone dermatologist first visually examines your skin to confirm that your symptoms match those caused by the different types of rosacea

Our dermatologists also ask you to describe when your symptoms first appeared, how frequently they occur, and what environmental factors may be causing them. Your doctor may ask you to monitor when redness or blemishes occur, trying to identify what provoked or worsened them. This information helps you to avoid those triggers and enables your dermatologist to identify which treatment option may be most effective. 

More Rosacea Resources

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