Understanding Rosacea Genetics: What You Need To Know

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Genetics & Rosacea: What You Need To Know

Date of Content: September 12, 2023
Written by: Jess Gayo
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD



What is Rosacea?

Around the world, millions of individuals suffer from a variety of skin disorders. Some of them are more severe than others, altering the way of life and quality of life for those who are affected. Among these common skin conditions is a chronic skin problem called rosacea

Rosacea is a common and persistent skin condition that mostly affects the skin of the face. Rosacea is frequently characterized by redness, visible blood vessels, and occasionally, tiny, pus-filled pimples that resemble acne. This illness commonly strikes adults in their 30s or 40s, and it can last for years. Although the precise etiology of rosacea is still unknown, it is thought to be a result of a mix of vascular, environmental, and genetic factors.

Facial redness, which can come and go but usually gets worse over time if ignored, is the primary symptom of rosacea. Usually, this redness affects the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin as well as the middle of the face. Other typical signs and symptoms of rosacea include telangiectasia, visible blood vessels, blushing or flushing readily, and a burning or stinging feeling on the skin, in addition to redness. Some people also get papules and pustules, which are similar to acne and irritate the skin even more.

Rosacea comes in a range of degrees of severity, from mild cases with infrequent flushing to more serious kinds that have a considerable negative influence on a person’s quality of life. Ocular rosacea is a disorder that can cause symptoms like dryness, redness, and irritation in the eyes.


What Causes Rosacea?

Although the exact cause of rosacea is still unknown, scientists believe that a complex interaction of genetic, environmental, and vascular factors is to blame. Although the precise causes and mechanisms are not fully known, a number of influencing factors have been noted. 


The likelihood of developing rosacea is increased in people with a family history of the ailment, therefore genetics do play a part. It is also believed that abnormalities in the facial blood vessels, persistent inflammation, and the presence of specific microorganisms on the skin are to blame. Additionally, persons who are prone to rosacea may experience worsening symptoms from environmental variables like stress, alcohol, spicy foods, and sun exposure.

Genetic Factors

Like many other complicated skin illnesses, the genetic causes of rosacea are not entirely known, but research has shed light on the role of certain genes in predisposing people to the condition. Note that while genetics contribute to the onset of rosacea, they also interact with a variety of environmental and lifestyle variables, making Rosacea a complex skin condition.

HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen)

An increased risk of rosacea has been associated with variations in several HLA genes. The immune system uses HLA genes to help the body distinguish between its own cells and invaders. Changes in these genes can affect inflammatory processes and immunological reactions, which raises the possibility that immune dysregulation plays a role in the emergence of rosacea.

IL (Interleukin) Family

Signaling molecules called interleukins control inflammatory and immunological reactions. Variations in the IL family of genes have been the subject of some investigations on rosacea. Genetic variables that influence Interleukin expression or activity have been linked to the inflammation found in rosacea, and these factors may be responsible for the disorder.

Family History

A family history of the ailment is one of the most important signs of a genetic predisposition to rosacea. People who have rosacea in their immediate family are more likely to get it themselves. This confirms that there likely is a genetic element that is passed down through the generations.

Skin Barrier Function

The stratum corneum, the top layer of skin, serves as the skin’s barrier, which is essential for defending against outside influences and preserving skin health. The development of rosacea may be influenced by genetic changes that alter the skin’s barrier function, such as the filaggrin (FLG) gene mutations observed in diseases like eczema.

Genetic Variations for Severe Rosacea

Recent genetic research has pinpointed particular gene variants linked to rosacea susceptibility. For instance, severe rosacea risk has been linked to polymorphisms in the HLA-DRA gene, which is associated with the human leukocyte antigen D. Since HLA genes are involved in the immunological response, the development of the condition may have an immune system component. Other genetic variations that have been studied in relation to possibly developing severe rosacea are rs12203592 (IRF4), rs1129038 (HERC2), rs16891982 (SLC45A2), rs847 (IL13), rs77779142 (SNX32), rs149851565 (NRXN3/DIO2), and rs3132451 (NCR3/AIF1).

Rosacea is a complicated condition that is influenced by both genetic predisposition and environmental variables. Genetic and environmental triggers interact to cause this complex illness. More investigation is required to improve our comprehension of the particular genetic pathways driving rosacea and to create more specialized treatments.

Non-Genetic or Environmental Causes

Environmental factors such as sun exposure, extreme temperature fluctuations, spicy foods, alcohol consumption, stress, and particular skincare products can either induce or aggravate rosacea symptoms in persons who are genetically predisposed to the condition. Finding out about the genetic markers associated with rosacea and other elements that might have an impact on the genesis and progression of this ailment can help you understand it better. 

Sun Exposure

Overexposure to the sun is a recognized rosacea trigger. Ultraviolet (UV) rays have the ability to widen cutaneous blood vessels and exacerbate inflammation. This trigger can be reduced by using sunscreen, wearing protective gear, and donning hats and clothing.

Extreme Temperatures and Climates

Flushing and the symptoms of rosacea can be made worse by exposure to extremely hot or cold weather. For those with rosacea, saunas, hot baths, and extended exposure to cold weather can all be troublesome.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is a well-known rosacea trigger, especially red wine, and hard liquor. It may widen blood vessels, resulting in more flushing and greater redness. It might be wise to limit alcohol consumption or select beverages that are less likely to provoke.

Certain Foods and Beverages

Besides spicy foods and alcohol, other dietary triggers can vary from person to person. Hot liquids like coffee and tea, as well as meals high in histamines like aged cheeses and fermented goods, are also common triggers of rosacea.

Stress and Hormonal Changes

Rosacea flare-ups can be triggered by emotional stress and worry. Techniques for managing stress, such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises, may help lessen symptoms. Some people’s rosacea symptoms may also be affected by hormonal changes brought on by menopause, pregnancy, or the use of oral contraceptives.

Skin Irritants

Astringents, abrasive scrubs, and harsh skincare products can aggravate the skin and make rosacea worse. Use moderate, non-irritating skin care products and stay away from alcoholic and scented items.


Long-term use of some drugs, such as topical steroids, might worsen rosacea. It’s crucial to talk with a healthcare professional about pharmaceutical options and any potential effects they may have on rosacea.

Environmental or non-genetic factors must be managed and controlled as part of rosacea management. The frequency and severity of rosacea flare-ups can be greatly decreased by identifying individual triggers and making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding known triggers and implementing a moderate skincare routine. 

When environmental triggers are difficult to avoid, healthcare professionals may occasionally advise prescription drugs or laser therapy to manage symptoms.

Is Rosacea Contagious?

Rosacea is a skin disorder that is neither contagious nor infectious. Genetic predisposition, numerous environmental variables, anomalies in the blood vessels, and the immune system all play a role in this skin disorder. Rosacea cannot be spread from one person to another through direct touch, respiratory droplets, or any other means because it is not brought on by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Rosacea is not a skin ailment that you may “catch” from someone else.

It’s important to see a dermatologist or other healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and advice on managing the illness if you have rosacea symptoms including persistent facial redness, flushing, or eye irritation. Proper diagnosis and treatment can successfully assist people affected by this condition or at the very least lessen their symptoms.

What are the Types of Rosacea?

Based on the unique symptoms and clinical presentation of rosacea, distinct forms or subtypes of the disease are identified. Dermatologists and other healthcare professionals can diagnose and efficiently treat rosacea thanks to the classification of the condition’s forms.

Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea (ETR)


Erythema (permanent facial redness) and telangiectasia (visible blood vessels) on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin are features of ETR. Skin could look burnt or flushed.

Additional Features: Patients who have ETR may occasionally blush or flush easily. A scorching or stinging sensation on the skin is frequent with this subtype.

Papulopustular Rosacea (PPR)


PPR, also known as inflammatory rosacea, manifests as facial skin that is red, and swollen, and develops papules (little red lumps) and pustules (bumps filled with pus). These signs might resemble acne.

Additional Features: PPR may also be characterized by prolonged facial flushing and redness as well as warmth and soreness in the affected areas.

Phymatous Rosacea


Skin that is thickened and bumpy is a characteristic of phymatous rosacea, which primarily affects the nose (rhinophyma), but can also affect the chin, forehead, cheeks, and ears. The skin may look uneven and bulging.

Additional Features: This subtype may cause increased sebaceous glands, which can give skin an oily look and increase pore size.

Ocular Rosacea


Ocular rosacea primarily affects the eyes. This subtype is characterized by a number of eye-related symptoms. Dryness, redness, itching, burning, light sensitivity (photophobia), and the perception of a foreign body in the eye are a few of these symptoms.

Additional Features: If neglected, some people with ocular rosacea may develop styes (hordeolum), blurred vision, and possibly corneal damage. Other rosacea subtypes frequently interact with ocular symptoms.

The severity of rosacea can differ greatly from person to person, and many people who have the disorder have a combination of these categories. Furthermore, effective rosacea management and halting the progression of symptoms depend on early diagnosis and therapy.

A subtype of rosacea may occasionally develop into another subtype, especially if neglected. For instance, papulopustular rosacea (PPR) characteristics may develop when erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR) progresses. This underlines the significance of personalized treatment programs created to address each patient’s unique symptoms and requirements.

Treatment Options for Rosacea

Rosacea treatment primarily aims to manage and alleviate the symptoms associated with each subtype. Usually, personal symptoms and demands are taken into consideration while creating a treatment plan. Dermatologists and other medical professionals collaborate extensively with patients to identify the proper rosacea subtype and provide individualized treatment plans. 

Topical and oral drugs, dietary adjustments, skincare regimens, and, in certain cases, laser therapy or surgical interventions to address phymatous alterations are among the possible treatments. Rosacea patients can manage their symptoms, and keep healthy, clear skin by seeking early assistance and careful treatment.

Topical Medications

Topical Antibiotics: Topical antibiotics available only by prescription, such as metronidazole, azelaic acid, and clindamycin, can help lessen rosacea-related inflammation and pustules. They’re frequently employed in mild to moderate situations.

Topical Anti-Inflammatories: For short-term use, doctors may prescribe topical corticosteroids to relieve inflammation and redness right away. However, due to potential side effects, prolonged use of corticosteroids is not advised.

Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors: In some situations, especially when other treatments are not well tolerated, medications like tacrolimus and pimecrolimus may be utilized to reduce inflammation.

Oral Medications

Oral Antibiotics: Antibiotics including tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline are frequently used for mild to severe rosacea. They aid in reducing swelling and pustules. Sometimes maintenance involves the use of low-dose, long-term antibiotics.

Oral Isotretinoin: Isotretinoin (Accutane) may be considered in extreme situations. It is a potent drug used to treat acne and has shown promise in treating some types of rosacea, particularly those with phymatous alterations.

Laser and Light Therapies

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy: IPL can effectively target redness and visible blood vessels associated with erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR).

Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL): PDL therapy is used to treat redness, visible blood vessels, and overall skin discoloration.

CO2 and Erbium YAG Lasers: These lasers may be used to address thickened and irregular skin in cases of phymatous rosacea.

Oral Steroids

Oral corticosteroids may be used for a brief period of time to control symptoms in severe cases with rapid disease development or significant inflammation. However, due to probable side effects, prolonged use of oral steroids is not advised.

Eye Drops and Ointments

Artificial tears, lubricating eye drops, and prescription drugs may be suggested for those with ocular rosacea to relieve eye-related discomfort.

Skin Care and Lifestyle Modifications

Gentle Skin Care: Using mild, non-irritating skincare products and a gentle cleansing routine can help reduce skin hypersensitivity.

Sun Protection: Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and protecting the face from excessive sun exposure is crucial to prevent flare-ups.

Avoiding Triggers: Identifying and avoiding personal triggers like spicy foods, alcohol, and extreme temperatures can help manage symptoms.

Stress Management: Stress-reduction techniques such as relaxation exercises, yoga, and mindfulness can help minimize stress-related flare-ups.

Due to the chronic nature of the disorder and the possibility of recurrence even under successful control, rosacea treatment is often a lengthy commitment. To track development and make any modifications to the treatment plan, it is crucial to schedule routine follow-up sessions with a dermatologist or other healthcare professional.

It is highly recommended that you speak with a healthcare provider to ascertain the best course of action for your particular subtype of rosacea and the severity of your condition. Most rosacea sufferers can get significant symptom alleviation and retain healthier, brighter skin with the right management and therapy.

LifeDNA’s Severe Rosacea Report

DNA analysis can be used to link familial causes to severe rosacea. Based on your individual genetic makeup, DNA testing can determine your hereditary risk of getting severe rosacea.  Consider a skin DNA test to find out whether you may be predisposed genetically to certain skin traits and issues.

The LifeDNA Skincare Report provides customized guidance on skincare regimens, product suggestions, and lifestyle adjustments. For instance, you can get tailored suggestions for lifestyle adjustments and potential acceptable therapies if you are genetically predisposed to having severe rosacea. Order your copy of the LifeDNA Skincare Report right now to learn more about your tendency for severe rosacea.


  • Numerous skin conditions, including the rosacea skin ailment, affect millions of people. 
  • Redness, clearly visible blood vessels, and sporadic microscopic pus-filled pimples that resemble acne are frequent signs of rosacea. 
  • The redness typically affects the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, and center of the face. 
  • Genetics do play a role in rosacea and those with a family history of the condition are more likely to develop it themselves.
  • Rosacea is a complex disorder that is affected by both hereditary tendencies and environmental factors. This complex condition is brought on by an interaction of genetic and environmental causes.
  • Different forms or subtypes of rosacea are recognized based on their distinctive symptoms and clinical appearance. 
  • Patients with rosacea can control their symptoms and maintain healthy, clear skin by getting help as soon as possible and receiving thorough care.

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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

Our reports and suggestions do not diagnose or treat any health conditions or provide any medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results.


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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

Our reports have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The contents on our website and our reports are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose any medical condition, replace the advice of a healthcare professional, or provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results. The testimonials featured may have used more than one LifeDNA or LifeDNA vendors’ product or reports.