During a scientific session at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting in Washington, DC earlier this month, Dr. Yolanda Helfrich, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan, provided an overview of current treatment options for rosacea, and offered recommendations to physicians to keep in mind when evaluating a rosacea patient for the first time.
“A key part of your initial evaluation should be finding out how sensitive this person’s skin is,” Dr. Helfrich said. “I think skin sensitivity is a very common complaint in patients who have rosacea. You really want to assess their tolerability of moisturizers or topical medications. Can they tolerate the products? Often a rosacea patient comes in and might say, ‘I don't use anything on my skin at all. Everything burns, everything stings.’ And that’s a patient you may want to approach a little bit differently than one who is able to tolerate any products that they apply.”
Since each rosacea patient’s individual case is unique, Dr. Helfrich also emphasized the importance of determining what personal impact the condition has on a patient.
“I think we can all recognize that sometimes someone might be very bothered by what might be considered to be relatively minimal erythema alone, whereas someone else who has multiple papules and pustules may not be very bothered by it,” she said, “We really need to meet the patient where he or she is.”
She added that it’s important that patients recognize that rosacea is a chronic, long-term, often lifelong disease that can be characterized by periods of flaring and remission, because otherwise they may not continue treatment. “If they don’t know that they may achieve control but their rosacea could flare again, or if they don’t realize they're going to have to use these topical or oral medications long term, they may not be compliant.”