Although the progression of rosacea can vary substantially from one individual to another, flushing and persistent redness are by far the most common early signs of the disorder, according to a new survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society.
In the survey of 1,072 rosacea patients on the order of appearance of rosacea signs and symptoms, 31 percent said that flushing was the first symptom they experienced, and 63 percent said it was the second. Meanwhile 24 percent reported that persistent redness was their first sign of rosacea, while it was named second by 34 percent and third by 39 percent.
“Rosacea goes undiagnosed in so many people because the most common initial symptoms – flushing and persistent redness – are often overlooked or mistaken for something else, such as sunburn,” said Dr. John Wolf, chairman of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Very often, patients are already experiencing multiple signs of rosacea before they seek medical help.”
While nearly 43 percent of the survey respondents said more than a year elapsed between the time they experienced their first rosacea symptom and their most recent, for most this happened more quickly. Thirty-eight percent said the interval was only a few months and 20 percent said it was about a year.
Beyond flushing and redness, other signs and symptoms most commonly appeared in the following order: bumps (third, 30 percent, or fourth, 24 percent), pimples (third, 28 percent, or fourth, 20 percent), visible blood vessels (third, 17 percent, or fourth, 28 percent), burning or stinging (third, 14 percent, or fourth, 26 percent), dry appearance (fourth, 18 percent, or fifth, 21 percent), raised red patches (fourth, 16 percent, or fifth, 14 percent) and swelling (fifth, 15 percent, sixth, 12 percent, or seventh, 13 percent).
Although eye irritation was rarely the first sign of rosacea, it was reported as second by 14 percent and as third by 10 percent, fourth by 19 percent, or fifth by 19 percent of the patients.
Survey respondents tended to be well into adulthood before the first sign of rosacea appeared. Twenty-five percent said they were in their 30s, 22 percent were in their 40s and 25 percent reported they were over 50. Seventeen percent were in their 20s and 11 percent were under 20.
“As awareness of rosacea and its early signs and symptoms increases, early diagnosis and treatment should become more of the norm,” Dr. Wolf said. “Patients will be better able to manage their disorder once they know what it is and receive proper therapy and daily care.”
He noted that more than 77 percent of the survey respondents reported medical therapy had reduced the signs and symptoms of their condition.