Have red patches on your face? Here are four potential causes of rosacea

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that can affect people of all ages, causing redness, swelling, stinging and even pimple-like pustules on the face. While the exact cause of rosacea remains unknown, researchers have uncovered several possible reasons why some people may develop this common skin condition.

Immune system function

In people with rosacea, the immune system tends to overreact, causing excessive inflammation. While more research is needed to determine the exact reasons why this occurs, it is believed that a peptide called cathelicidin may play a key role in causing the immune system to go into overdrive, triggering redness, swelling and other symptoms of rosacea.

Anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients like feverfew, green tea extract, niacinamide and others can help to soothe red, inflamed skin. Additionally, avoiding harsh scrubs, chemical exfoliants and other known triggers can help to avoid “turning on” these inflammatory pathways.

Demodex mites

Demodex is a specific genus of microscopic mite that lives in hair follicles and sebaceous glands. While these mites are common and generally harmless in small numbers, large populations can activate the immune system and have therefore been linked with rosacea.

Some rosacea treatments such as Soolantra, which contains topical ivermectin, can improve rosacea symptoms.

The gut-skin connection

Much research is centered on better understanding the connection between the gut microbiome and the skin. Researchers have found a connection between imbalances within the gut microbiome and inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea. While it is possible that specific probiotics may help rebalance both the gut and skin microbiome, we are still unsure about which probiotics, if any, may work best.


High levels of estrogen or testosterone may play a role in the worsening of rosacea symptoms. Additionally, thyroid disorders may also be linked with inflammatory skin conditions. However, more research is needed to confirm these potential hormone-related connections.

Bottom line

While scientists are still examining the underlying causes of rosacea, immune system function, Demodex mites, the gut-skin connection and hormone imbalances may play crucial roles in the development or worsening of rosacea symptoms. If you think you may have rosacea, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.

Dr. Leslie Baumann
Dr. Leslie Baumann

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