Understanding the Causes of Rosacea

May 7th 2016


Researchers find that many people with a family history of rosacea also have the disease, and suspect a genetic link. The most common ethnicities associated with rosacea include people with Celtic and Scandinavian backgrounds. The disease also tends to occur more often in people with blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin. Symptoms of rosacea include redness of the skin around the face and severe acne.

Immune Response

The majority of patients with acne-like rosacea may react to a bacterium called Bacillus oleronius. The immune reaction overstimulates a person's body, and acne may occur. Scientists are unsure why this occurs more often in people with rosacea. Similarly, a protein that usually protects skin from infections may cause redness and swelling. How the human body processes this protein, called cathelicidin, may play a role in rosacea.

Bugs and Mites

A bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori remains common in people with rosacea, although many patients who have this infection do not have the skin disease. People with large numbers of Demodex folliculorum mites on the surface of the skin are more likely to have rosacea. These tiny mites live on the nose and cheeks as they consume dead skin cells. Scientists cannot determine if this mite represents the sole cause of rosacea since many subjects without the skin disease also have large numbers of Demodex folliculorum mites.


Any number of environmental triggers may aggravate rosacea, so a doctor may advise that people avoid things that increase blood flow to the skin. Hot foods, hot beverages, alcohol, spicy foods and medications that dilate blood vessels may all trigger redness of the skin associated with rosacea. Patients may also want to avoid overexposure to sunlight, temperature extremes, strenuous exercise, hot baths and stress. People sometimes mistake the redness of rosacea as sunburn, a rash, rosy cheeks or acne. The disease most commonly occurs along central parts of the face such as the cheeks, nose and forehead.


Scientists and doctors do not yet understand the exact cause of rosacea, but researchers have noted several factors that seem to have a correlation within people diagnosed with the disease. More than 14 million Americans have rosacea, according to the U.S. government. Find out what factors may increase your chances of having this type of skin malady.

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