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Home / Rosacea / What are the different types of rosacea?

What are the different types of rosacea?

Learn about the 4 main ways in which rosacea presents itself

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that mostly affects people between the ages of 30 and 50. But despite being a common ailment, many people aren’t aware that there are several different kinds.

A graphic showing the four types of rosacea

As many as 50% Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source of rosacea sufferers have more than one type. Keep reading to find out the 4 main kinds of rosacea and how they compare with one another.

Type 1: Facial redness

The first type of rosacea causes facial redness. It can be referred to as vascular rosacea, or erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETC).

A close-up of a woman’s face with type 1 rosacea

Type 1 is the most common kind of rosacea. As well as redness, it can cause:

  • flushing (when the skin gets red and hot to touch)
  • visible blood vessels (these might look like small red lines that are showing through the skin)

Redness is normally seen on the centre of the cheeks, the nose, and the forehead. Sometimes, those with ETC will experience redness on the chin, scalp, or neck.

This type of rosacea often flares up and then disappears. Having more flare-ups is likely to worsen your condition over time.

Finding out what triggers your flare-ups is one of the best ways to manage them. By avoiding triggers you can keep your skin in a calmer state.

Type 2: Bumps and spots

Type 2 rosacea causes bumps and spots on the skin’s surface. This is known as papulopustular rosacea or acne rosacea.

A woman’s face with mild type 2 rosacea and some white ointment

Due to the appearance of pimples, it is often confused with acne. However, using acne creams on type 2 rosacea can aggravate the skin and should be avoided.

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If you’re not sure if your breakout is acne or rosacea, consider the following:

Type 2 rosacea Acne
  • Redness covers large areas of the face
  • Infection isn’t present
  • Doesn’t present as blackheads
  • Most common in middle-aged people
  • Redness is only around the spots/pimples
  • There could be bacterial infection
  • Could present as blackheads
  • Most common in teenagers and young adults

Other symptoms of type 2 rosacea include:

  • redness covering large sections of the face
  • sensitive skin
  • oily skin
  • raised patches
  • broken and visible blood vessels

Speak to a dermatologist or a healthcare professional if you aren’t sure if you have rosacea or acne. With their guidance, you can begin the correct treatment.

Type 3: Skin thickening

Type 3 rosacea is rarer, and involves parts of the skin (usually on the nose) thickening. This is known as phymatous rosacea or rhinophyma.

A close-up of a man’s nose presenting signs of rhinophyma

It is most commonly seen in men. Unlike types 1 and 2, which mostly affect 30-50 year olds, type 3 rosacea is most common in older men, between ages 60 and 70.

As well as causing the skin on the nose to thicken, type 3 rosacea might cause:

  • reddened skin (on the nose)
  • bumpy skin texture
  • enlarged pores
  • a visibly bigger nose (due to thickening of the skin)
  • a bulbous or ‘ruddy’ nose
  • visible, broken blood vessels

It is also possible for skin to thicken on the ears, cheeks, chin, and forehead. However, this is much rarer than occurring on the nose.

If your condition begins to affect your self-esteem, you could consider having surgery. This treats the rhinophyma by changing the shape of the nose back to what it once was.

However, because this surgery is deemed cosmetic you will have to pay for it privately. It is very unlikely to be provided for by the NHS.

Type 4: Eye irritation

The last type of rosacea affects the eyes. It is referred to as ocular rosacea.

A close-up of a woman’s eye presenting with redness and irritation

If you have type 4 rosacea, you may notice inflammation and redness around your eyes and on your eyelids. You may also experience:

  • bloodshot, watery eyes
  • dry eyes
  • itchy eyes
  • a feeling of something gritty in the eye(s)
  • a stinging sensation in the eye(s)
  • sensitivity to light
  • cysts on the eyelids, or areas surrounding the eyes
  • visible blood vessels on the eyelids

It may be useful to use eye drops to help relieve any symptoms of discomfort.

Eating fatty fish which contains omega-3s might also help to ease ocular rosacea. It is considered one of the best foods for rosacea and for promoting healthy skin, too.

Different grades of rosacea

As well as having different types, rosacea can be categorised into different grades. This helps you distinguish if your condition is mild, moderate, or severe.

Grade Score Description
Clear 0 No inflammatory skin or redness present
Almost clear 1 Very few small papules, very mild redness
Mild 2 Few small papules, mild redness
Moderate 3 Several small/large papules, moderate redness
Severe 4 Numerous small/large papules, severe redness

Your rosacea might vary from being almost clear on some days, to moderate or severe on days that you have flare-ups.

If you are tracking the condition of your skin, this grading scale can be useful.


The following table shows more concisely how the 4 main types of rosacea compare with one another:

Type: 1 2 3 4
Does it cause redness?
Does it cause acne-like bumps?
Does it cause the skin to thicken?
Does it affect the eyes?
Can it be managed with treatment?

Luckily, all types of rosacea can be managed with the correct treatment. However, treatment options will vary depending on your type. Some options include:

  • managing your diet
  • avoiding triggers
  • laser therapy
  • taking prescription medication
  • surgery

Speaking with a dermatologist will provide you with the best advice, especially if you need to treat a combination of rosacea types.

Main takeaways

To summarise, the different types of rosacea are:

Type 1: The most common form of rosacea which causes facial redness and flushing.

Type 2: ‘Acne’ or papulopustular rosacea which causes bumps and spots on the skin, as well as facial redness.

Type 3: Rhinophyma, which involves thickening of the skin usually on the nose. It can create large pores and a waxy appearance.

Type 4: Ocular rosacea which affects the eyes, causing itching, dryness, and discomfort.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Anand Abbot MRCGP Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 06-12-2023

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Further reading

Papulopustular rosacea

Papulopustular rosacea

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Good and bad foods for rosacea

Good and bad foods for rosacea

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8 most common rosacea triggers

8 most common rosacea triggers

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Rosacea: a guide to treatment

Rosacea: a guide to treatment

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