Rosacea is diagnosed more often in women than in men. But when the condition occurs in men, the symptoms tend to be much more severe.
Environmental Possibilities Environmental factors being investigated as possible causes include a bacterium (helicobacter pylori) and a mite (Demodex folliculorum) that lives in hair follicles.
Recent research has found that people with rosacea may have excessively high levels of a naturally occurring protein called cathelicidin. Another chemical being explored for its possible role in rosacea is adenosine triphosphate, which is released by the nervous system when the body is under stress. Stress is a frequent trigger of rosacea flare-ups.
Alcohol Not a Cause
One common misperception about rosacea is that it's caused by alcohol. Although drinking alcohol can trigger the flushing associated with rosacea, many people who develop the condition are non-drinkers.
Common Triggers While the causes of rosacea remain unknown, certain factors can lead to rosacea flare-ups by causing the small blood vessels under the skin to dilate. These triggers include consuming alcohol (as just noted); drinking coffee, soup, and other hot beverages; taking a hot bath; eating spicy foods; exercising; going out in cold or humid weather; experiencing stress; and using certain topical creams, lotions and make-up.
Biggest Trigger: the Sun
According to surveys, the most common trigger of rosacea symptoms is sun exposure. In one survey, 81 percent of people with rosacea cited sunlight as a flare-up factor.
In fact, people with rosacea who drive a lot tend to develop more symptoms on the left side of their face — the side by the car window. Since modern car windows block UVB but not UVA rays from the sun, this tells us that the non-burning (but still skin-damaging) UVA rays are probably a big contributor to the condition.
One of the most important self-help meaures you can take to manage your rosacea is to wear protective clothing and a sunblock whenever you go outdoors.