Both a blistering sunburn and a family history of rosacea were associated with the presence of rosacea, according to study results presented by Dr. Alexa Boer Kimball, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, at the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.
In the study, 65 individuals with rosacea and 65 healthy control subjects underwent a facial skin exam, completed a questionnaire, and were measured for height, weight and blood pressure. In general, Dr. Kimball said, the cases of rosacea were moderate to severe.
The researchers found that individuals with rosacea were three times more likely to have a family member with the disease, compared to the control subjects. In addition, rosacea patients had significantly higher rates of blistering sunburns than those without rosacea -- 44 percent versus 5.2 percent.
"Even when we did a more sophisticated analysis of the data controlling for age and gender, we found these findings were statistically significant," said Dr. Kimball. "Although these results are preliminary, they are important for future research as we start to explore their implications in controlling this condition."
The results show that it may be especially important for patients with rosacea to consistently protect against sun exposure and use a sunscreen with an SPF (skin protection factor) of 15 or higher.
While it was not clear whether sunburns contributed to rosacea or patients with rosacea were more likely to sunburn, she said, preventive measures could help lessen rosacea's severity. Sun has been named the top flare-up trigger by 81 percent of patients in a National Rosacea Society survey (NRS), and in another NRS survey nearly 52 percent said someone else in their family had rosacea.