BARRINGTON, Illinois (August 15, 2005) -- No matter whether a person has a mild, moderate or severe case of rosacea -- a red-faced, acne-like disorder affecting an estimated 14 million Americans -- it can be devastating to one's social life, often making it difficult to appear in public or establish new relationships because of its effect on personal appearance, according to a new survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society and published in Rosacea Review.
In the survey of 660 rosacea patients, 86 percent of respondents with severe rosacea reported it had inhibited their social lives and 67 percent with moderate rosacea were also affected, compared to 38 percent of those with mild cases.
Of the respondents with severe rosacea, 74 percent reported they had avoided public contact or canceled a social engagement because of the disorder's effect on their facial appearance, and 65 percent had even found it difficult to establish new relationships.
In addition, 42 percent of patients with moderate rosacea and 18 percent with mild rosacea reported canceling social engagements because of a flare-up and 44 percent and 19 percent, respectively, found establishing new relationships difficult.
Seventy-three percent of respondents with severe rosacea reported being the subject of stares, misconceptions, rude comments or jokes because of their skin condition, while 63 percent of those with moderate rosacea and 37 percent with mild rosacea reported these reactions from others.
"The results of this survey underscore the importance of long-term care to prevent rosacea from getting worse," said Dr. William James, professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. "Beyond its physical effects, this is a chronic disorder that calls for ongoing attention because of its potential social consequences, as well as its impact on many people's emotional and professional lives."
Rosacea is a chronic disorder that usually first strikes between the ages of 30 and 60 as a flushing or redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that comes and goes. As the condition progresses, the redness becomes more persistent, small dilated blood vessels may become visible and bumps and pimples often develop. In severe cases, the nose may become red and swollen from excess tissue, and in many individuals the eyes also become irritated, a condition known as ocular rosacea.
Adding to the potential embarrassment is a common misconception that the flushed face and swollen red nose experienced by many rosacea sufferers are the result of heavy drinking. However, while alcohol may aggravate the condition, the symptoms may be just as severe in a teetotaler.
"When I was a teacher, the school principal made nasty comments about my complexion and even asked if I was drinking. I do not drink alcohol and never did," one survey respondent commented, while another said, "I don't have a social life anymore." Another respondent lamented, "It has impacted my career path negatively," while another commented, "It prohibits me from being the real me."
Despite its devastating social effects, many rosacea sufferers falsely assume that, like teenage acne, their complexion problem will eventually go away by itself. Fortunately, medical treatment and lifestyle changes can bring the unsightly symptoms of rosacea under control, and nearly 70 percent of all survey respondents said effective therapy had improved their social lives.
Anyone who suspects they may have rosacea is urged to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
For information and educational materials on rosacea, write the National Rosacea Society at 800 S. Northwest Highway, Barrington, Illinois 60010, or call its toll-free number at 1-888-NO-BLUSH. Information and materials are also available on the society's Web site at www.rosacea.org, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.