Papulopustular rosacea, sometimes referred to as inflammatory rosacea, is a type of skin condition that may sometimes be mistaken for acne.

Researchers do not fully understand the causes for rosacea, though experts think it is due to a combination of genetics and environmental triggers.

Read on to learn more about the symptoms, treatments, and possible triggers for papulopustular rosacea.

Papulopustular rosacea often begins as pus-filled or red bumps that form close together on your skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD).

Your skin may also feel hot to the touch or itchy along with frequent breakouts. Those with lighter skin may see the rosy-red flush this condition is named for; while those with darker skin may find their flush tends toward yellow or dusty brown. Sometimes referred to as inflammatory rosacea, papulopustular rosacea is always associated with bumps or texture (sometimes referred to as plaque) of some sort.

The cause of all types of rosacea are not entirely understood, though it may be due to a combination of genetics and environmental triggers.

The best way to avoid rosacea flare-ups is to get to know your triggers and avoid them whenever possible. For example, skip red wine if that seems to aggravate your condition and wear SPF daily if sunlight seems to be a rosacea trigger, which it often is.

Some of the most common rosacea triggers, according to the AAD, are:

  • sunlight and high temperatures
  • wind and low temperatures
  • high stress and exercise
  • some medications and supplements
  • spicy foods and hot beverages
  • food that contains the compound cinnamaldehyde
  • alcohol
  • hairspray or other hair products
  • having the intestinal bacteria H. pylori
  • the presence of a skin mite called demodex and the bacterium it carries, Bacillus oleronius

You can also avoid skin care products that contain the following ingredients, which can be harsh for rosacea-prone skin:

  • alcohol
  • menthol
  • witch hazel
  • exfoliating agents
  • fragrance
  • acids
  • certain essential oils, including peppermint and eucalyptus

There is not one recommended diet to help combat papulopustular rosacea. However, there is some research and anecdotal evidence showing that certain foods may improve the condition and other food and drinks can make rosacea worse.

Managing your diet may be one step in reducing your overall rosacea symptoms.

Foods that help keep rosacea flare-ups at bay include:

  • fish
  • nuts and seeds
  • eggs
  • foods that contain zinc
  • fiber-rich foods
  • fermented foods like pickles

Foods that may make rosacea symptoms worse include:

  • hot beverages
  • spicy dishes
  • alcohol
  • foods that contain cinnamaldehyde, including:
    • cinnamon
    • citrus
    • tomatoes
    • chocolate

At any point in your rosacea journey, you should feel empowered to check in with a dermatologist or your physician. However, it’s especially important if you feel like your symptoms are worsening or that you are having regular, severe flare-ups.

Rosacea is likely a lifelong condition that you will need to carefully manage. It can be helpful to seek a therapist or a support group with other people who understand your situation.

There is not currently a cure for rosacea, though symptoms can be managed.

Prescription medications may help reduce the appearance and frequency of rosacea outbreaks, per 2018 research. Some medications a doctor may prescribe include:

  • Azelaic acid (gel or cream)
  • Metronidazole (gel or cream)
  • Minocycline (oral antibiotic)
  • Doxycycline (oral antibiotic)

You can also look for over-the-counter products that contain sulfur, and always opt for gentle, nonexfoliating cleansers. If your doctor gives it the OK, laser or light treatment may be helpful — but this option may be best for those with visible blood vessels.

There are also many home remedies for rosacea that show some promise.

For example, per 2012 research, a compress made of cooled green tea may help calm redness. And products containing niacinamide may help to relieve redness associated with skin flushing.

Papulopustular rosacea shows up on your skin as redness and whitehead-filled bumps or pustules on your face that may be mistaken for acne.

While there is no cure for this type of rosacea, certain lifestyle tweaks — such as avoiding very spicy foods and too much time in the sun — may make the chronic skin condition more manageable.

If symptoms persist, a medical professional can recommend treatment or medication to keep the condition at bay.