Social Impact of Rosacea

Posted on: 10/08/2012

Most rosacea patients feel the negative social impact of their condition regardless of which rosacea subtype they may have, according to the results of the latest National Rosacea Society (NRS) survey.

While 61 percent of those with only subtype 1 (erythematotelangiectatic) rosacea, characterized by facial redness, said their rosacea had inhibited their social lives, the number rose to 72 percent among those who reported their redness was moderate or severe. Seventy-seven percent of patients with the bumps and pimples of subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea alone reported that their social life had been negatively impacted, and 85 percent of patients whose symptoms included subtype 3 (phymatous) rosacea had been negatively affected.

Among the respondents who had the eye irritation of subtype 4 (ocular) rosacea, 71 percent said the disorder's effects had inhibited their social lives.

The most common complaint, cited by 50 percent of the 801 respondents, was having to refuse food or drink they normally would enjoy for fear of triggering a rosacea flare-up. Forty-three percent said they had been the subject of stares, misconceptions, rude comments or jokes, and 39 percent had refused or canceled social engagements because of rosacea's effects on appearance. Other common complaints included not participating in physical activities they would enjoy, reported by 37 percent; and avoiding new or different experiences, cited by 28 percent.

"It's important for rosacea patients to use a diary to identify and avoid only those things that affect their individual cases," said Dr. Lisa Maier, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan. "This process can reduce the effect of rosacea on social activities, as certain foods and other factors that may trigger a rosacea flare-up in one patient may not affect another."

Combining all subtypes, those who characterized their rosacea symptoms as "severe" reported the most negative social effects of the condition. Ninety-three percent said the disorder had inhibited them socially, and their most prevalent complaint (named by 72 percent) was having to refuse or cancel social engagements. Having to refuse food or drink they would enjoy was a close second, mentioned by 67 percent.

"The good news is that medical therapy, combined with trigger avoidance, can help to reduce rosacea's impact on most patients," Dr. Maier said. Survey results bear this out, as 63 percent of the respondents reported improvement in their social lives following medical therapy.