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Can you get scars from rosacea? What you need to know

Don’t worry—rosacea rarely causes scarring. But here’s what else you should expect.

Curology Team Avatar
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team, Curology Team
Updated on Sep 29, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Kristen Jokela, NP-C
young woman looking concerned at her mirror
Curology Team Avatar
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team, Curology Team
Updated on Sep 29, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Kristen Jokela, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

We know the sensitive, inflamed, and red skin caused by rosacea can leave you feeling unpleasant, uncomfortable, and even isolated. But you’re not alone—in fact, rosacea impacts more than 16 million Americans.¹

Rosacea is a normal part of life for many, and it’s nothing to feel ashamed about. While the condition is chronic and (currently!) incurable, you can manage many of the symptoms of rosacea with the right skincare and lifestyle changes. If you’re worried about scars from rosacea on your face or body, don’t be. Rosacea doesn’t typically result in scars, so you can rest easy knowing you’re unlikely to have lasting scarring between or during flare-ups. Read on to learn about rosacea, its potential causes, and why you shouldn’t fret about scarring.

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic condition that most often affects the skin of the face. It can cause frequent and persistent redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels (aka telangectasias) near the skin’s surface. It usually causes persistent redness on the central area of the face that spreads across the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. Rosacea may also appear on your eyes, chest, neck, ears, or scalp, although this is far less common than facial redness.²,³ If left untreated, those who suffer from rosacea may experience uncomfortable symptoms, including swelling, skin sensitivity, dryness, and a stinging sensation in the affected area(s). 

While it’s a common skin condition, particularly after age 30, it’s possible to develop rosacea at any age.⁴ Rosacea isn’t contagious and can’t be spread through skin-to-skin contact. So, you can’t catch rosacea—and no one knows for sure why it develops—but scientists have found a number of contributing factors⁵ that may put you more at risk:

  • Genetics: If you have a family member who has rosacea, you may be more likely to develop the condition yourself. 

  • Intestinal bacteria: An intestinal bug, H. pylori, is common in people with rosacea. It’s hard to tell if this is a cause of rosacea or not, as people without rosacea can also get H. pylori infections.  

  • The immune system: Patients with rosacea are more likely to have an overreactive immune response to a certain bacteria (bacillus oleronius). This may be linked to rosacea. 

  • Mites: Everyone has microorganisms living on their face, including mites. We know it sounds gross, but mites generally don’t cause any problems. However, Demodex mites are found at greater concentrations in patients with rosacea than in patients without. Whether this is a cause of rosacea or a result of rosacea has yet to be determined.

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

Rosacea is a complex condition that manifests differently in everyone it affects. If you’re concerned that a skin abnormality may result from rosacea, contact your medical provider. The following are common symptoms of rosacea, but not an exhaustive list:

  • Persistent redness of the central face. Red inflamed skin on the central face (i.e. the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin).⁶ Dilated and visible blood vessels (aka telangiectasias): The spidery, red, and purple blood vessels that appear under the surface of your skin. 

  • Thickened skin (aka phymatous changes): Skin-thickening rosacea (most commonly on the nose - aka rhinophyma) causes skin thickening, fibrosis, and enlargement of glands, often on and around the nose. This type of rosacea is rare and mainly affects men.

  • Papules and pustules. The raised red bumps and puss-filled blemishes can be easily mistaken for acne.

Can rosacea cause permanent damage to the skin?

Rosacea symptoms tend to begin as mild but may worsen with time, especially if left untreated. Though rosacea can cause permanent damage to your skin, it’s very rare (phew!). Typically, symptoms appear during flare-ups of the condition and improve with treatment. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for rosacea, so symptoms typically return. However, with the right treatment plan, you can help manage the condition, so that flare-ups are few and far between.

Does rosacea leave scars?

While rosacea may be the culprit behind frustrating symptoms such as frequent flushing, persistent facial redness, and acne-like lesions, it doesn’t tend to leave scars on the face. Scarring is only really a concern with phymatous changes, which is a rare symptom of rosacea. These common occurrences result in scarring more often than rosacea:

We all know you shouldn’t pop your pimples, but can you pop rosacea bumps? In short: No. You shouldn’t pick at the bumps and puss-filled blemishes caused by rosacea. Like acne, picking at skin abnormalities can impact their healing and leave a scar.

woman with red little spots on her cheeks

Curology is here to help!

Rosacea is cyclical, meaning flare-ups occur and then subside. So, living with rosacea comes with good days and not-so-good days. But an effective rosacea treatment can make it easier to cope with the condition. That’s where we come in. Curology was founded by dermatology providers whose mission is to create accessible solutions to common skincare concerns such as rosacea, acne, and signs of aging. Our service is provided by a team of licensed dermatology providers with more than 1000 years of combined experience.  

Rosacea can impact anyone, which means there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. We know your skin is unique—that’s why Curology pairs you with a licensed skincare expert who will recommend a personalized formula and other effective skincare routines and products for treating rosacea. We can improve the symptoms of your rosacea with popular ingredients like ivermectin, metronidazole, and azelaic acid using a personalized prescription formula prescribed by a licensed dermatology provider.

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Can rosacea cause permanent damage?

Though rosacea is a well-studied condition, researchers have yet to find a cure. This means the condition is permanent, but the symptoms often aren't. The symptoms of rosacea, like redness and skin irritation, usually manifest in a cycle of flare-ups, appearing for some time only to disappear and reappear again when triggered. Effective treatment can reduce the frequency of your flare-ups. Permanent damage to your skin is rare but can occur if you experience the uncommon side effect of skin thickening or pick at the skin on your face, potentially resulting in scars.

How do you get rid of scars from rosacea?

Pigment scarring treatment is similar to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation treatment from acne. And keep in mind, “pigment scarring” isn’t true scarring. Retinoids, a family of compounds derived from vitamin A, are popular and accessible topical treatment options that have been found to be successful in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Also, like dark spots from acne, residual post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from rosacea-related pustules can be addressed with other topical ingredients like niacinamide or azelaic acid. 

Rhinophyma can be treated surgically, with excess skin removed, and the remaining skin reshaped to appear as it did before the onset of symptoms.⁷ If you’re looking to address scarring caused by rosacea, the first step is to talk to your doctor. 

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P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. American Academy of Dermatology.Skin conditions by the numbers. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).

  2. Gallo, R. L., et al.Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2017, October 28).

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Rosacea. (n.d.).

  4. Gallo, R. L., et al.Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Ibid.

  5. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosacea: Who gets and causes. (n.d.).

  6. Gallo, R. L., et al.Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Ibid.

  7. Chang, D. K., et al. A Safe, Modern Treatment of Rhinophyma: The 5-Step Technique. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open. (June 2020).

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Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Kristen Jokela, NP-C

Kristen Jokela, NP-C

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