Although rosacea most often strikes fair-skinned individuals, it is not unheard of in non-Caucasians. "Rosacea is uncommon in African Americans, but it does exist," said Dr. Denise Buntin, adjunct associate professor of dermatology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who has several black patients who suffer from rosacea.
The usual symptoms of rosacea also occur in blacks, though some may appear differently, she said. For example, the persistent redness seen in light-skinned sufferers will have a more violet tone in an African American. Though flushing is not as apparent, black sufferers describe a feeling of warmth on the face. Dr. Buntin said her patients have also noticed increased oiliness and inflammation on the face, including bumps and pimples.
As in fair-skinned rosacea patients, the condition may progress to rhinophyma, where the nose becomes large and bumpy with excess tissue. Ocular rosacea has also been documented in African Americans.1
"Certainly the damage to self-esteem is the same for African Americans with rosacea as it is for fair-skinned sufferers," she said. However, the need for early treatment is especially important in black patients because there is a danger of hyperpigmentation -- darkening of skin color -- in those areas of the facial skin where inflammation has appeared.
Browning DJ, Rosenwasser G, Lugo M. Ocular Rosacea in Blacks. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 1986;101:441-444.
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