According to a study funded by the National Rosacea Society, researchers have found a potential connection between the nervous system and the redness and stinging of subtype 1 (erythematotelangiectatic) rosacea.
Drs. Ferda Cevikbas and Martin Steinhoff, University of California-San Francisco, noted that the flushed face of rosacea is often accompanied by stinging and burning, signs of nerve activation. They theorized that this may signal a dysfunction in communication between the nerves and the vascular system.
A neuropeptide – a molecule linked to the nervous system – called pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) was recently recognized as playing a role in regulating the blood vessels, they noted. However, while PACAP has been identified as having inflammatory as well as anti-inflammatory effects in various animal diseases, its role in human skin and skin disease is poorly understood.
Drs. Cevikbas and Steinhoff administered PACAP into skin on the underside of the forearms of volunteers, and found that the neuropeptide caused flushing, swelling and itching, though not pain. The investigators noted that PACAP may have a role in pain in combination with other factors, and suggested that blocking PACAP may be a potential treatment to relieve the redness and flushing of rosacea.