The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

December 1, 2012

Medical Edge: Redness and pimple-like bumps may indicate rosacea


More than half of people with rosacea experience a burning or gritty eye sensation called ocular rosacea. The inner skin of the eyelids may become inflamed or appear scaly. A rare occurrence — mainly in men — may occur late in the course of rosacea where tissue builds up on or around the nose, giving the nose a large, bulbous appearance (rhinophyma).

True rosacea rarely clears up on its own. If you have persistent facial redness, see your doctor for diagnosis and proper treatment.

You may notice that some of the following factors may make your face turn red (flush). If that’s the case, avoid:

  • Temperature extremes
  • Sunlight exposure
  • Hot foods or beverages
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Stress, anger or embarrassment
  • Hot baths, saunas
  • Medications that dilate blood vessels, including some blood pressure medications

Other than avoiding potential flushing triggers, there aren’t good treatments to address the problem of flushing on its own. However, if the flushing produces dilated vessels on your skin, laser surgery may help reduce the visibility of those blood vessels.

Gentle skin care practices are important to avoid irritating sensitive facial skin and to protect your skin from needless damage. Your doctor can recommend specific skin care products best suited for your skin type.

There are effective treatments for the pimple-like bumps caused by rosacea. Topical medications may help reduce these blemishes. Commonly used prescription topicals include antibiotics such as metronidazole (Metrocream, Metrogel, others), tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, others), benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea) and sulfacetamide (Klaron).

Topicals may be used alone or in combination with oral antibiotics, which also help reduce inflammation. Oral antibiotics tend to work faster than topical ones. Once symptoms improve, you may be taken off the oral antibiotics and use just topical medication to help keep rosacea in remission.

Ocular rosacea is typically treated with oral antibiotics. If needed, your doctor may prescribe steroid eyedrops. In the rare instances of rhinophyma, treatments such as laser surgery can be used to remove tissue buildup.

Treatment for rosacea varies depending on the severity of your symptoms. Although there’s no cure for rosacea, you can often suppress symptoms and keep rosacea under control with medications and self-care. — Dawn Davis, M.D., Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. Email a question to For more information, visit

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