Flare-Ups Hit Often but Medicine Eases Severity: Survey

Posted on: 10/20/2014

The majority of rosacea patients experience an outbreak of symptoms at least once a week, but even greater numbers cite medication and trigger avoidance as effective tools in controlling those flare-ups, according to results of a new National Rosacea Society patient survey.

Forty-two percent of the 774 survey respondents said they notice the reappearance or increase in intensity of their rosacea symptoms every few days, and 17 percent said their flare-ups occur once a week. Seventeen percent said they have an outbreak of symptoms once a month, 21 percent said it happens every few months and 4 percent said they experience a flare-up only once a year.

“Rosacea is known as a disorder of flare-ups and remissions, where symptoms come and go, so the goal is not only to decrease the severity and duration of flare-ups, but to maintain remission to increase the length of time between outbreaks,” said Dr. Julie Harper, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. “In addition to compliance with long-term medical therapy, it may take a patient some time to determine exactly which lifestyle and environmental factors exacerbate his or her individual case and should thus be avoided.”

According to the survey, the duration of a flare-up varies greatly from patient to patient, just as the signs and symptoms do. Nineteen percent of those answering the survey said their outbreaks last less than a day, and 30 percent said they last more than a day; 25 percent reported they last more than a week; 12 percent noted they last several weeks; and 13 percent said the duration was more than a month. 

The good news is that 68 percent of the survey respondents said medication has been effective in controlling their flare-ups, and 76 percent said avoiding factors that aggravate their rosacea has been effective in controlling the condition.

The duration of flare-ups tended to be shorter than average among those who reported success with medication and trigger avoidance. Within that subset, 55 percent said their outbreaks last less than a week, and about a third of those noted that the duration was less than a day. Twenty-six percent said their flare-ups last more than a week, 9 percent said they last several weeks and 9 percent said they last more than a month.

Fifty-seven percent of the patients taking the survey characterized their rosacea flare-ups as moderate, while 20 percent called them mild and 23 percent labeled them as severe. Among those in the severe category, 59 percent said they experience a flare-up every few days, and only 31 percent said the outbreaks last less than a week. Twenty-six percent said they last more than a month.