BARRINGTON, Illinois (July 30, 2001) -- While emotional stress often plays a major role in triggering unsightly flare-ups of rosacea, an acne-like facial disorder affecting an estimated 14 million Americans, stress management techniques have been found to be highly effective in reducing its impact, according to a new survey by the National Rosacea Society.
"There is no doubt that stress can directly affect our health," said Dr. Ted Grossbart, a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School. "This survey provides direct evidence that stress management can help control the effects of rosacea on facial appearance."
Rosacea is a chronic disorder of the facial skin characterized by flare-ups and remissions. It typically begins at any time after age 30 as a flushing or redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. As the disease progresses, the redness becomes ruddier and more persistent, and small dilated blood vessels may appear. Without treatment, bumps and pimples often develop, and in advanced cases, the nose may become swollen from excess tissue. In the survey of more than 700 rosacea patients, published in Rosacea Review, 91 percent reported that emotional stress caused or sometimes caused their rosacea to flare up. Stress reportedly led to frequent flare-ups for 45 percent of the survey respondents and occasional flare-ups for 42 percent. Only 10 percent indicated that stress rarely affected their rosacea. Because of the effects of stress, 40 percent of the survey respondents indicated they have incorporated stress reduction techniques into their lifestyles, and another 38 percent said they sometimes practice stress management. The vast majority of those patients who work to avoid stress found it helps control their rosacea. Nearly 83 percent reported that it reduced or sometimes reduced their rosacea flare-ups, and only 13 percent said it had no effect. "The conspicuous redness, blemishes and swelling caused by rosacea can actually add to the patient's emotional pain by making social and professional interactions embarrassing and uncomfortable," said Dr. Grossbart, author of Skin Deep: A Mind/Body Program for Healthy Skin. "This can create a downward spiral where stress triggers flare-ups, which in turn cause further emotional stress." According to 67 percent of respondents, the most difficult kind of emotional stress for their rosacea was anxiety, followed by anger (52 percent), frustration (48 percent), worry (46 percent) and embarrassment (41 percent). Only 27 percent said excitement caused flare-ups, and 17 percent reported that sorrow aggravated their condition. Family was a major source of stress for 50 percent of survey participants, and jobs were a major source for 42 percent. Other causes of stress included finances for 30 percent, health for 28 percent, relationships for 23 percent and social pressure for 16 percent.
Dr. Grossbart suggested the following basic stress management techniques: Caring for the Body. During times of stress, it is particularly important to eat right, exercise moderately and maintain normal sleep patterns. Deep Breathing. Inhale to the count of 10 and exhale to the count of 10. Repeat this exercise several times. Visualization. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes for several minutes and visualize a favorite vacation spot or pleasurable activity. Relaxation. Relax muscles starting at the top of the head and work down to the toes. Positive Action. To minimize anxiety and worry, identify the things outside your control, and focus on taking positive action on things you can do something about.
"The first step toward managing rosacea is to recognize that you have a medical disorder that can be effectively treated by health professionals, as well as by avoiding lifestyle factors such as stress that can aggravate the condition," Dr. Grossbart said. "People who suspect they may suffer from rosacea should see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate therapy. If stress is contributing to the problem and the stress reduction techniques above are not enough, seek out a mental health practitioner."
Although rosacea cannot be cured, effective treatment is available from physicians that can halt its progression and minimize or reverse its effects. Dermatologists usually prescribe oral and topical antibiotics to bring its signs and symptoms under immediate control, followed by long-term treatment with the topical medication alone to maintain remission. Laser therapy or intense pulsed light sources may also be used to remove visible blood vessels, resculpt an enlarged nose or reduce extensive redness.
For information and educational materials on rosacea, write the National Rosacea Society, 800 S. Northwest Highway, Suite 200, Barrington, Illinois 60010, or call its toll-free number at 1-888-NO-BLUSH. Information and materials are also available on the society's Web site at www.rosacea.org, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The National Rosacea Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people with rosacea by raising awareness, providing public health information and supporting medical research on this widespread but little-known disorder. The information the Society provides should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace
consultation with a qualified physician. The Society does not evaluate, endorse or recommend any particular medications, products, equipment or treatments. Rosacea may vary substantially from one patient to another, and treatment must be tailored by a physician for each individual case. For more information, visit About Us.