Everyone gets red in the face from time to time, either because of heat, exertion or embarrassment. But being very flushed most of the time can be distressing. One possible cause is rosacea, which is characterised by inflammation of the skin on the face, leading to redness, swelling, a hot or burning sensation, and later spots and broken thread veins.

Rosacea is not infectious but it can be extremely uncomfortable and difficult to cope with during flare-ups. As many as one in 10 people can be affected by rosacea. It typically starts around the age of 40 but can occur at any age during adulthood. Rosacea is more common in people with fair skin and it can be inherited. Often, flare-ups are triggered by certain factors such as hot drinks, hot or spicy food, drinking alcohol or caffeine, the weather (changes in temperature, exposure to sun/wind), or emotions such as stress.

Rosacea treatment is available but, as this is a minor condition, it can take a while for your GP to consider you have a problem worth spending a great deal of time to sort out. If you are able to consult a private skin specialist, you may find that the rosacea treatments on offer can be provided more quickly, there is more continuity of care and your therapy can be tailored to your needs.

This article on private rosacea treatment is by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.


Initial symptoms of rosacea are red flushing and swelling of the face. This can lead to the face becoming persistently red, with the occurrence of acne-like spots and/or broken thread veins. The most affected areas tend to be the cheeks, although the nose, chin and forehead can also be affected.

Permanent thread veins are a significant long-term effect of rosacea, and are often the reason why people who are affected seek rosacea treatment. Other long-term effects can include persistent swelling of the face, an enlarged nose or discomfort around the eyes.

What types of treatment are available?

Rosacea is often difficult to diagnose as it can be confused with other skin conditions such as acne or dermatitis. However, a diagnosis is important as this will enable you to undergo appropriate rosacea treatment. Consulting a private dermatologist is the quickest way to access an expert who will be able to distinguish rosacea from other skin problems.

The first aim in rosacea treatment is to identify and avoid any specific triggers, such as alcoholic or hot drinks, or particular spices and to avoid them to see if the skin returns to normal. This isn’t always possible, so further rosacea treatment is often needed.

Antibiotic tablets or creams such as metronidazole or tetracycline are often used in rosacea treatment to target the spots that can occur during flare-ups. This is an important part of rosacea treatment as it is these spots that lead to the broken veins characteristic of rosacea.

Private treatments

Private skin clinics offer effective treatments for facial thread veins and other symptoms associated with rosacea. Intense pulsed light (IPL) or pulsed dye laser (PDL) rosacea treatments work by delivering intense heat directly to the broken blood vessels via pulses of red light. The heat causes damage to the blood vessels and encourages them to be reabsorbed into the body. The heat also stimulates growth of new connective tissue in the surrounding area to support the new blood vessels as they form, helping to delay the appearance of more thread veins. The overall effect of this type of rosacea treatment is improved appearance of the skin.

What happens during IPL?

Before undergoing IPL for rosacea treatment, you will need to stay out of the sun so that your face stays as pale as possible. You may need to have a patch test to assess your skin’s reaction to the treatment. You will need to undergo a course of between four and six treatments, and each session will usually involve treating the whole of the affected area. IPL therapy involves directing flashes of intense light at your skin. This can cause feelings of heat and leave your face red for a while after the treatment. This type of rosacea treatment may need repeating in the future as rosacea is a recurrent condition. However, improvements will continue to be seen after the course of treatment has been completed.

What are the possible complications of IPL?

Phototherapy of this type for rosacea treatment can lead to side effects including temporary redness and swelling of the area treated, as well as changes in pigment (lighter or darker). However, these effects usually subside soon after treatment. Cooling packs may help to reduce these symptoms following this type of rosacea treatment. Some bruising is possible but this will subside.

IPL and similar rosacea treatments are not suitable for anyone with light sensitivity. You should also not embark on this type of rosacea treatment if you have any degree of a suntan or are wearing fake tan. This type of rosacea treatment is not suitable if you are pregnant or taking roaccutane (isotretinoin), which is used to treat acne.

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