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Medically reviewed by Dr. Nancy Shannon, MD, PhD on August 31, 2021
The short and simple answer here is no, rosacea is not contagious. Though the redness associated with rosacea flare-ups may resemble that of contagious skin conditions such as methicillin-resistant staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), rosacea cannot be spread from one person to another through any kind of contact.
Just knowing that rosacea isn’t contagious doesn’t tell the full story of how people do acquire it or why it doesn’t spread. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s what you need to know:
Why Rosacea Doesn’t Spread Between People
Rosacea is not an infection caused by a bacteria, fungus or virus. Though outside irritants such as sunlight or harsh skincare products can cause one’s rosacea to flare up, it cannot cause someone without the condition to develop it. A correlative relationship between rosacea and an increased presence of Demodex folliculorum mites has been observed, but it’s not clear that the mites themselves cause rosacea. Though the precise causes of rosacea are unknown, it is clear that rosacea is not spread between people through close contact.
What Causes Rosacea
So if rosacea can’t be spread from person to person, how does anyone get it in the first place? Unfortunately, the answer is not exactly a simple one. Rosacea unquestionably has some genetic component to it: researchers have identified a few key gene regions that seem to be linked with cases of rosacea. Rosacea is also far more likely to appear in people with fair skin and Northern European ancestry, further suggesting some kind of genetic and hereditary link.
The genes themselves aren’t the whole story, though. Some of these gene locations are adjacent to those related to various autoimmune disorders, implying a possible connection between rosacea and the immune system. One of the molecules produced by the immune system in order to fight illnesses, cathelicidin, has been found in the rosacea skin lesions. When the body produces too much of the molecule, redness, inflammation, and blemishes can appear similar to those caused by rosacea.
The presence of ultraviolet light as well as some strains of bacteria have also been correlated rosacea, but no clear causative effect has been attributed to any of the aforementioned factors. Ultimately, rosacea is a complicated condition with a number of potentially causative agents at play. The good news is that you don’t need to worry about catching or spreading it.
If you have rosacea, though, you’ll want to learn what your treatment options are as soon as possible. Get in touch with a member of our team of experts today in order to get set on the path towards clear, healthy skin.