Rosacea, a chronic and often embarrassing disorder of the facial skin that affects an estimated 14 million Americans, may be linked to genetics, according to a new survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society (NRS) and published in Rosacea Review.
The NRS survey of 600 rosacea patients found that nearly 52 percent of the respondents had a relative who also suffered from the condition and that people of some nationalities are more likely than others to develop the disorder.
Of those who said they had a relative with rosacea, most indicated it was an immediate family member. Thirty percent reported their mother has or had rosacea, while 35 percent indicated their father, 28 percent cited a sister and 24 percent named a brother. In some cases more than one family member was indicated.
In addition to family history, the survey found that national ancestry also may be an indication of relative risk for rosacea.
Rosacea has often been called the "Curse of the Celts," and data from the new survey support the theory that it is especially prevalent among the Irish. Thirty-one percent of the respondents reported they had at least one parent of Irish ancestry, while only 11 percent of the U.S. population is of Irish heritage, according to the 2000 U.S. Census figures.
However, those of German and English heritage seem to be highly prone to rosacea as well. Forty-one percent of patients responding to the survey reported they had some German ancestry, compared to 15 percent of the U.S. population, and more than 30 percent reported English ancestry, versus 9 percent reporting English ancestry in the national census.
Other nationalities in which rosacea was present at a higher rate than the ethnicity is represented in the U.S. population include Scandinavian, Scottish, French, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, Hungarian and Czech.
Although little was known about rosacea years ago, some of the survey respondents could trace the condition back more than one generation. Nearly 16 percent reported one of their grandmothers had rosacea, while 14 percent noted that their grandfather was affected.
The facial disorder may be targeting the next generation as well, since nearly 15 percent of the respondents reported one or more of their children have been diagnosed with rosacea. Many also indicated that an aunt, uncle or cousin had been diagnosed with the condition, too.