Although public awareness of rosacea as a medical disorder has grown significantly in the past two decades, knowledge of its wide range of potential signs and symptoms continues to lag, according to a new patient survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society (NRS). Only 47 percent of the 1,459 survey respondents said they had never heard of rosacea prior to receiving their diagnosis, compared to a 1997 Gallup poll that showed 78 percent of Americans had no knowledge of rosacea.
Awareness of the chronic skin disorder, however, did not translate into awareness of specific signs and symptoms commonly associated with the condition. Of those answering the NRS survey, 95 percent said they knew little or nothing about the signs and symptoms of rosacea prior to their diagnosis, and only 5 percent said they knew a lot.
Even fewer people were aware of how rosacea is treated. Seventy-seven percent said they knew nothing about rosacea treatment prior to being diagnosed, 21 percent said they knew a little about treatment and only 2 percent said they knew a lot.
“The NRS has conducted a public awareness program every year since its founding in 1992, and those activities appear to have done a good job as far as helping to make the term ‘rosacea’ much more widely known,” said Samuel Huff, executive director of the NRS. “But it seems we still have a way to go in educating the public on the common warning signs and symptoms of rosacea. This is vitally important because early diagnosis and medical treatment can keep the disorder from progressing and substantially interfering with people’s lives.”
In addition to awareness efforts by the NRS, rosacea patients themselves are helping to spread the word about the often-embarrassing facial condition. It is now estimated that more than 16 million Americans have rosacea, and many of those sufferers are discussing their disorder with others. Among those taking the recent NRS survey, 83 percent said they have talked about their rosacea since their diagnosis.
A good majority of the family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances with whom the rosacea patients discussed their condition had never heard of rosacea, either. Twenty-one percent of the survey respondents said none of the people they talked with were familiar with the condition, while 62 percent said a few had heard of the disorder, 15 percent said most of the people they talked with knew the term, and only 2 percent said all of the people they talked with had heard of rosacea.
The 17 percent of respondents who said they have not discussed their condition with others since receiving their diagnosis had a variety of reasons for not doing so, but the most common reason cited was “I’m embarrassed by my condition and don’t want to draw attention to it,” cited by 46 percent of these survey participants. Forty-one percent said the condition has never come up in conversation because “no one ever asks about it or comments about my appearance.” Twenty-four percent said they felt they don’t know enough about rosacea to discuss it with others, and 21 percent said “it’s a private health issue and not anyone else’s business.”
“There may still be a stigma attached to many of the signs and symptoms of rosacea, because of their effects on personal appearance,” Huff said. “The more we can educate the public about this medical condition, the easier it will be for everyone.”