Survey Finds Facial Disorder Hurts More Than Appearance

Posted on: Mon, 02/20/2006 - 14:08 By: nrs-admin

While the often-devastating impact of rosacea on facial appearance is well recognized, a new survey shows that physical discomfort is also experienced by the majority of people with this red-faced, acne-like disorder now estimated to affect more than 14 million Americans.

In the survey of 605 rosacea patients, conducted by the National Rosacea Society and published in Rosacea Review, 93 percent said they had experienced at least some physical discomfort due to rosacea. Among those who experienced discomfort, the most common manifestation was facial burning, experienced by 72 percent of the respondents. In addition, facial itching was reported by 61 percent, stinging by 52 percent and swelling by 41 percent.

Forty percent of the respondents reported tenderness, while 36 percent said they experienced tightness in their skin. Thirty-one percent experienced tingling and 24 percent felt a prickling sensation.

"The physical pain experienced by many rosacea patients is often underappreciated by others," said Dr. John Wolf, chairman of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine. "Rosacea patients need to take special care to avoid substances that irritate their skin, along with other triggers that might cause irritation and lead to a flare-up."

Physical discomfort was experienced most often in the facial regions where rosacea is most common: the cheeks (80 percent), nose (53 percent), eyes (48 percent), chin (40 percent) and forehead (36 percent).

Many of the respondents commented that their "faces felt hot, like having a very bad sunburn," while others reported "outright pain," "pulsating pain" or a "searing sensation" on their facial skin.

Interestingly, a number of rosacea patients reported discomfort in areas beyond the central face, including the ears (18 percent), scalp (20 percent), neck (16 percent) and behind the ears (11 percent).

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed said the discomfort occurred at the same time as the physical signs of rosacea, and an additional 21 percent said there was some correlation.

Fortunately, 84 percent of the respondents reported that medical therapy helped relieve the discomfort associated with their condition.

Rosacea is a chronic disorder that usually first strikes after age 30, and is more frequently diagnosed in women than men. It most often begins as a flushing or redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go.

Over time, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear. Left untreated, bumps and pimples may develop and, in severe cases -- particularly in men -- the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. In many people, the eyes are also affected, feeling irritated and appearing watery or bloodshot.

Individuals who suspect they may have rosacea are urged to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.