What is couperose skin?

Couperose is the French word for the chronic inflammatory skin disorder rosacea. The term “couperose skin” is sometimes used to describe skin that’s showing signs of rosacea.

Rosacea is a skin condition most common among people with fair skin. It’s thought that somewhere between 2 and 22 percent of people with light skin have rosacea.

Rosacea can be classified into four subtypes depending on the symptoms. People often experience symptoms of multiple subtypes.

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is characterized by redness and flushing of the central part of the face. It often leads to telangiectasia, or visible blood vessels in a spiderweb pattern.
  • Papulopustular rosacea leads to breakouts of pimples and pustules.
  • Rhinophyma rosacea is a relatively rare form of rosacea that causes the skin on your nose to thicken. It’s more common in men than in women.
  • Ocular rosacea is associated with redness and inflammation in and around the eyes.

Keep reading to learn the typical symptoms of couperose skin, what causes it, and how it can be treated.

Couperose skin can occur in anyone, but it’s most common in women over 30 years old with light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes.

People with couperose skin may experience any of the following symptoms, depending on which subtype of rosacea they have:

  • facial redness and flushing in the center of the face
  • visible blood vessels
  • sensitive skin
  • burning and stinging skin
  • formation of pimples and pustules that may contain pus
  • thickening of the skin, especially of the nose
  • the development of an enlarged nose
  • dry, irritated, and swollen eyes

The cause of rosacea and couperose skin isn’t fully understood. It’s thought that genetics, immune system reactions, environmental factors, exposure to certain microorganisms, and dysfunction of the nerves that control your blood vessels play a role in its development.

Rosacea is a chronic condition, and symptoms tend to flare up in waves.

Exposure to the following factors may trigger flare-ups:

  • hot drinks
  • spicy food
  • foods that contain cinnamaldehyde, such as chocolate, cinnamon, tomatoes, and citrus
  • red wine
  • alcohol
  • extreme temperatures
  • ultraviolet (UV) light and wind exposure
  • heightened emotions
  • exercise
  • some cosmetic products
  • drugs that dilate blood vessels

Couperose is the French word for rosacea. The two terms are synonyms and refer to the chronic inflammatory skin disorder. Other synonyms include:

  • acne rosacea
  • facial erythrosis
  • copparosa (Italian)
  • Kupferfinne (German)

In English, the term “couperose” is often used to refer specifically to the red, inflamed appearance of the skin. Couperose skin is skin that’s prone to developing rosacea flare-ups.

At this time, there’s no cure for rosacea, so treatment focuses on managing symptoms.

If you think you’re dealing with rosacea, it’s a good idea to see a doctor so they can rule out other conditions, eczema or lupus, that may produce similar symptoms.

Avoiding triggers

You may notice that certain triggers cause rosacea to flare up. Avoiding these triggers may help you minimize symptoms. Red wine, spicy foods, UV light, and alcohol are among common triggers.

You can protect yourself from UV light by applying a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher whenever you go outside.

Couperose skin creams and gels

If your rosacea is mild to moderate, a doctor may recommend one of several creams or gels that can be applied to your face, such as:

Brimonidines reduce redness by causing the blood vessels in your face to constrict. Azelaic acid and metronidazole have antimicrobial properties that help manage acne.

The creams or gels have to be reapplied frequently to see continuous results. The effects of brimonidine last up to 12 hours.

Pulsed light therapy

Pulsed light therapy is a form of laser therapy that uses heat from beams of light to shrink blood vessels.

Most people see a 50 to 75 percent reduction in visible blood vessels with one to three treatments. Results tend to last from 3 to 5 years.

Side effects are usually mild. These include:

  • temporary redness
  • loss of skin color
  • bruising

Acne medications

If rosacea is causing pimples and pustules and doesn’t respond to using a gentle face cleanser, a doctor may recommend oral antibiotics and other acne medications like Amnesteem and Claravis (isotretinoin) to manage acne. Isotretinoin helps shrink oil-producing glands on your skin.

Oral antibiotics can help manage acne by killing bacteria that live on your skin and reducing inflammation. Common antibiotics prescribed for rosacea include:

  • minocycline
  • doxycycline
  • erythromycin
  • clarithromycin
  • clindamycin

In the United States, 40 milligrams of doxycycline is often prescribed.


Isotretinoin shouldn’t be taken by pregnant women, since it’s linked with birth defects.

Kanuka honey

Honey has anti-inflammatory effects that may help manage symptoms of rosacea when applied topically.

A 2015 randomized controlled trial examined the effects of topical kanuka honey as a potential rosacea treatment. The researchers found that after 8 weeks of using kanuka honey, about a third of the people treated had clinically significant improvements compared to one-sixth of people given a placebo.

Couperose, more often referred to as rosacea, is a common inflammatory skin disorder. It generally causes redness in the central part of your face, visible blood vessels, and sensitive skin.

It’s not entirely known what causes couperose skin, and at this time there’s no cure. Treatment includes managing symptoms through lifestyle changes, medications, and laser therapies.

It’s a good idea to talk to a doctor before starting rosacea treatment so that they can rule out conditions with similar symptoms.