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Rosacea in Darker Skin: Less Common but Not Rare

Posted: 04/09/2013

The assessment of rosacea in darker skin was among the rosacea-related topics presented at the recent 71st annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) in Miami Beach.

Dr. Valerie Callender, associate professor of dermatology at Howard University, said that while not widespread, rosacea does occur in individuals with darker skin, which she noted is a growing segment of the U.S. population with the increase in Hispanics.

“I see many cases of patients with rosacea who have darker skin types,” she said. “They’re often told they have acne, seborrheic dermatitis or even lupus erythematosus. Though rosacea is less common in skin of color, do not say it is rare.”

In an analysis of the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, also presented during the AAD meeting, Dr. Amir Al-Dabagh and other researchers at Wake Forest University noted that the prevalence of rosacea in darker skin may be underestimated, and found that 4 percent of all U.S. patients diagnosed with rosacea were Hispanic or Latino of any race, 2 percent were African American and 2.3 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander.

The key to detecting rosacea in these patients is to take a history to elicit possible flare-up triggers as well as any sensitivity of the facial skin, Dr. Callender said, especially because visible signs such as tiny spider veins may not be detectable. Also, instead of redness, the dermatologist may see hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation — areas of less or more color compared with the adjacent skin.

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