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Blake Medical Center

Diagnosis of Rosacea

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical and family history. A physical exam will be done, including a thorough examination of your skin. The diagnosis can usually be made based on the typical appearance of the rash. In some situations, you may be referred to a doctor specializing in skin problems (a dermatologist) or eye problems (an ophthalmologist). There are no specific tests to detect rosacea, but some testing may be done to rule out other disorders with similar symptoms. These may include blood tests or a skin biopsy.

The National Rosacea Society's experts have created a system for diagnosing rosacea that includes specific symptoms being present for 3 months or more.

The diagnosis will include identification of the subtype. Knowing the subtype of rosacea can help with a treatment plan. There are 4 subtypes:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (subtype 1)—Flushing and persistent redness, which may or may not include visible blood vessels.
  • Papulopustular rosacea (subtype 2)—Persistent redness with bumps and/or pimples that come and go.
  • Phymatous rosacea (subtype 3)—Skin thickening, irregular nodules, and enlargement, which can affect the nose (most common), chin, forehead, cheeks, ears, or eyelids.
  • Ocular rosacea (subtype 4)—Eye symptoms, including redness, watering, burning, or swelling eyelids (this can affect the cornea and result in vision loss).

Symptoms can vary in severity. It is also possible to have symptoms that fall into more than one subtype.

Do not try to diagnose and treat yourself because certain over-the-counter medications can make rosacea worse.

Revision Information

  • All about rosacea. National Rosacea Society website. Available at: Accessed December 28, 2015.

  • Questions and answers about rosacea. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) website. Available at: Updated September 2013. Accessed December 28, 2015.

  • Rosacea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: December 10, 2015. Accessed December 28, 2015.

  • Rosacea: Diagnosis and treatment. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed December 28, 2015.