Rosacea can cause redness and acne-like pus-filled bumps on the nose. A rare type of rosacea called rhinophyma can cause the skin on your nose to thicken.
Rosacea is a skin condition that causes redness of the face. Rosacea often occurs on the nose. Sometimes, a rare type of rosacea called rhinophyma may cause the skin on your nose to thicken, which may make your nose look swollen with enlarged pores.
Rhinophyma is sometimes colloquially called “whiskey nose” or “gin blossom,” but there’s no research that suggests it’s caused by alcohol consumption. It’s also sometimes referred to as “potato nose.”
Rhinophyma is not the only type of rosacea that affects the nose. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR) and acne rosacea can also cause redness, small pus-filled bumps, and visible broken blood vessels on the nose.
It’s not clear what causes rosacea on the nose, and there’s no known cure. However, there are many treatments that can improve how your skin looks and feels.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can cause redness, flushing, and small red pus-filled bumps. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, rosacea affects about 14 million people in the United States.
Rosacea has four different subtypes:
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR): This type causes redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels on the face, especially the forehead, cheeks, and nose.
- Acne rosacea: This type causes red and pus-filled bumps, which may look like acne breakouts.
- Rhinophyma: This type is a rare form of rosacea that causes the skin on the nose to thicken. It is often accompanied by another subtype of rosacea, especially acne rosacea.
- Ocular rosacea: This type mostly affects the eye area.
Nobody knows what causes rosacea, but it’s more common in people with fair skin. It often develops in people between the ages of 30 and 50.
The symptoms of rosacea depend on the type of rosacea you have.
Symptoms of rosacea ETR:
- dry, rough skin
- flushing and redness on nose, forehead, and cheeks
- sensitive skin
- stinging and burning skin
- swollen skin
- visible broken blood vessels
Symptoms of acne rosacea:
- acne-like breakouts
- oily skin
- raised patches of skin
- redness on nose, forehead, and cheeks
- sensitive skin
- small, red, pus-filled bumps
- visible broken blood vessels
Symptoms of rhinophyma (thickening skin on nose):
- bumpy skin texture, especially on nose
- large pores
- thick skin, especially on nose but also on chin, forehead, cheeks, and ears
- visible broken blood vessels
Symptoms of ocular rosacea:
- bloodshot eyes that feel gritty
- broken blood vessels on eyelids
- burning or stinging in the eyes
- cysts on eyes
- diminished vision
- dry, itchy eyes
- eyes that are sensitive to light
- watery eyes
How long do rosacea symptoms last?
Rosacea is a chronic condition, meaning it technically lasts a lifetime. However, there may be periods where the symptoms seem to disappear (remission) and where symptoms increase (flare-ups).
Rosacea flare-ups can last from days to months. These flare-ups may be triggered by certain factors, such as stress, harsh weather, or certain cosmetics.
Certain lifestyle choices, cosmetics, and self-care strategies may help you manage your rosacea symptoms. It’s possible to have rosacea and experience few flare-ups if you manage it well.
However, rosacea triggers and symptoms differ from person to person. Managing the symptoms of rosacea may be more difficult for some people than it is for others.
It’s not clear what causes rosacea. Genetics and environmental factors may play a role. Recent research suggests that rosacea may be caused by the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori or a skin mite called Demodex, which carries a certain type of bacterium.
You’re more likely to develop rosacea if you:
- have a family history of rosacea
- are fair-skinned
- have Celtic or Scandinavian heritage
- are between the ages of 30 and 50
Although women are more likely to get rosacea in general, men are more likely to get rhinophyma.
In people who have rosacea, certain factors — foods, cosmetics, or events — may trigger flare-ups. This means that your symptoms may worsen for a period.
Rosacea triggers differ from person to person. Common rosacea triggers include:
- certain foods, which may include dairy products, spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus, vinegar, beans, soy sauce, and more
- certain cosmetics, especially those containing alcohol
- certain beverages, including alcohol and hot beverages like tea and coffee
- heat, including hot baths, saunas, and hot weather
- health conditions, including menopause
- medications, especially topical steroids
- strenuous exercise
- stress, trauma, and anxiety
- sun exposure
- weather, including extreme cold or heat, humidity, and strong winds
What triggers one person’s rosacea may have no effect on the next person. If you can’t figure out your triggers, it may be wise to keep a diary so that you can note your flare-ups and exposure to potential triggers.
Rosacea on the nose develops in stages that may span many years.
The stages of rosacea include:
- Pre-rosacea, where the
only symptomis facial flushing.
- ETR rosacea, which involves swollen blood vessels and redness, develops next.
- In some people, acne rosacea — characterized by red, small, pus-filled bumps — may occur next.
- Advanced-stage rosacea, including the development of rhinophyma, may occur as the final stage in some people.
Not everybody who has ETR rosacea goes on to develop acne rosacea and rhinophyma, and not everyone with acne rosacea develops rhinophyma.
However, treating the early stages of rosacea
If you have rosacea on the nose, your treatment will depend on the type of rosacea it is.
If you have rosacea ETR or acne rosacea on the nose, your doctor may prescribe:
- antibiotic creams
- oral antibiotics
- oral isotretinoin
- topical creams that reduce flushing, like brimonidine (Mirvaso) and oxymetazoline (Rhofade)
If you have rhinophyma, your doctor may prescribe medications like topical metronidazole or isotretinoin. These medications are more helpful for mild rhinophyma. As rhinophyma can worsen over time, medications are usually prescribed in the early stages.
Advanced or severe rhinophyma can be treated with surgery. You’d need to go off oral isotretinoin before surgery. Rhinophyma surgery removes tissues, which reduces the enlarged sebaceous glands and recontours the nose, making it look smaller and smoother.
Because rhinophyma is usually accompanied by other types of rosacea, it’s generally a good idea to practice self-care strategies to avoid flare-ups. This can include:
- avoiding known triggers
- being sun-safe by avoiding excessive sun exposure and using sunscreen
- eating a nutritious diet and avoiding foods that tend to trigger your rosacea
- managing stress in a healthy way
- using gentle skin care products for rosacea
- avoiding harsh ingredients like alcohol, witch hazel, fragrances, and menthol
If you have rosacea on your nose, it may be a good idea to speak with a general practitioner or dermatologist about your options for managing your symptoms.
Does rosacea on the nose go away?
Rosacea and rhinophyma are chronic conditions. You may experience periods of remission as well as flare-ups. However, medications can help you manage the symptoms of rosacea so that the symptoms are less severe.
If you have advanced rhinophyma, surgery can drastically improve the way the skin on your nose looks and feels. However, it’s possible that rhinophyma may re-occur after surgery.
Rosacea may affect the nose, causing redness and red pustules to form on the skin and around the nose. A rare form of rosacea, called rhinophyma, may cause the skin on the nose to thicken. It can also cause enlarged pores on the nose.
Although rosacea is a chronic condition, medication and self-care strategies may improve your symptoms. If you have advanced rhinophyma, surgery can thin the skin on the nose and make it appear less severe.