For many individuals with rosacea, every social occasion can feel like a minefield no matter how mild their condition, according to a new survey by the National Rosacea Society (NRS). April was designated as Rosacea Awareness Month by the NRS to alert the public to the early warning signs of this chronic and conspicuous facial disorder now estimated to affect more than 16 million Americans.
“Rosacea’s impact on appearance can be a disabling blow to the emotional and social lives of those who suffer from this poorly understood condition,” said Dr. Mark Dahl, chairman of the NRS Medical Advisory Board. “In addition, the stress of facing friends, family and co-workers can act as a trigger for flare-ups, leading to a tailspin that can become increasingly difficult to bear.”1
Fortunately, for individuals who recognize rosacea’s warning signs and seek medical help, diagnosis and appropriate therapy can bring their signs and symptoms under control and keep its social and emotional effects at bay.
According to the new NRS survey of 801 rosacea patients, most feel the negative social impact of their condition regardless of which rosacea subtype they may have.
The most common complaint, cited by 50 percent of the respondents, was having to refuse food or drink they normally would enjoy for fear of triggering a rosacea flare-up. Forty-three percent said they had been the subject of stares, misconceptions, rude comments or jokes, and 39 percent reported that they had refused or canceled social engagements because of rosacea’s effects on appearance. Other common complaints included not participating in physical activities they would enjoy, reported by 37 percent, and avoiding new or different experiences, cited by 28 percent.
Although the cause of rosacea is unknown, a vast array of lifestyle and environmental factors can trigger flare-ups of signs and symptoms in various rosacea sufferers. Common rosacea triggers include sun exposure, emotional stress, hot or cold weather, wind, heavy exercise, alcohol, spicy foods, heated beverages, humidity, certain skin-care products and many others.
“The good news is that medical therapy, combined with trigger avoidance, can help to reduce rosacea’s impact on most patients,” Dr. Dahl said.
An increasing amount of research, including studies supported by the NRS, is revealing new underlying causes that may result in further improvements in therapy, thanks to the very generous donations of Rosacea Review readers, which go toward medical research unless otherwise specified.
Individuals with any of the following warning signs of rosacea are urged to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment:
• Redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead
• Small visible blood vessels on the surface of the face
• Bumps or pimples on the face
• Watery or irritated eyes
1. Baldwin H. Psychosocial implications of rosacea. Dermatologist 2012;April(suppl):2-4.