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What Is Rosacea?

Sometimes called the "great pretender," rosacea (rose-AY-sha) affects an estimated 14 million Americans and is a common, chronic skin disease. Also referred to as "adult acne," rosacea causes facial swelling and redness and, therefore, is easy to confuse with other skin conditions, such as acne or sunburn.

Famous rosacea sufferers include W.C. Fields and former President Bill Clinton, both often captured on film with the classic mid-face redness and bumpiness of rosacea.

People with rosacea might first notice a tendency to flush or blush easily. The condition can occur over a long period of time and often progresses to a persistent redness, with pimples and visible blood vessels in the center of the face that might eventually involve the cheeks, forehead, chin and nose. Other affected areas include the neck, ears, chest and back. Sometimes, rosacea affects the eyes.

The cause of this disease is unknown. Researchers think that heredity and the environment might play roles in the development of rosacea.