While the conspicuous red face and blemishes of rosacea can be embarrassing enough, they tell only part of the story as a new survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society (NRS) shows that significant physical discomfort often accompanies the visible signs of this widespread disorder now estimated to affect more than 16 million Americans.
In the NRS survey of 1,709 rosacea patients, nearly 93 percent said they had experienced physical discomfort as a result of the disorder. A burning sensation was the most commonly cited, named by 76 percent of the survey respondents. Itching was reported by two-thirds of the patients, followed closely by stinging, mentioned by 61 percent.
Among the other physical discomforts experienced by the survey participants were tightness, cited by 45 percent; swelling, named by 44 percent; tenderness, mentioned by 41 percent; tingling, 32 percent; prickling, 25 percent; and headache, 19 percent.
“The physical pain of rosacea is often overshadowed by the changes in appearance and the emotional impact of the condition, but all aspects deserve to be addressed,” said Dr. Julie Harper, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama—Birmingham. “Ideally, medical therapy combined with avoidance of individual triggers can help to bring about a remission of symptoms, which will reduce both the emotional and physical toll of the disorder.”
The cheeks were the most common site for rosacea-related discomfort, named by 85 percent of the respondents, followed by the nose, cited by 58 percent. The eyes were another commonly affected site, mentioned by 45 percent, while the chin and forehead were reported by 42 percent each. Other affected areas included the scalp, named by 21 percent; the neck, 18 percent; the ears, 15 percent; and behind the ears, 11 percent.
As might be expected, those with subtype 3 (phymatous) rosacea reported that the nose was the most frequent site of physical discomfort, while those with subtype 4 (ocular) rosacea noted that the eyes and cheeks were equally affected by physical discomfort.
Seventy-one percent of those answering the survey said that medical therapy has improved their outward signs of rosacea, while nearly 70 percent reported that it also reduced their physical discomfort.
“In addition to medical therapy, a gentle skin-care routine with products that are designed specifically for sensitive skin may alleviate some of the physical discomfort associated with rosacea,” Dr. Harper said. “Your dermatologist should be able to help you select those that work best for your individual case.”
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.