Rosacea Risk Factors Answer "Why Me?"

"Why me?" is a question many ask when they find themselves with the embarrassing effects of rosacea -- which may include facial redness, visible blood vessels, bumps, pimples, eye irritation and other symptoms if left untreated. While rosacea can strike all segments of the population, surveys by the National Rosacea Society have revealed a profile of those most at risk for this conspicuous and increasingly common condition:

  • Age Over 30 -- Rosacea usually first strikes after age 30. In a National Rosacea Society survey, 43 percent of respondents said that their rosacea first appeared between ages 30 and 50, and 39 percent said after 50. Only 17 percent said they were under 30.
  • Fair Skin -- Seventy-two percent of rosacea sufferers reported having fair skin, while 27 percent described their complexions as medium.
  • Flushing or Blushing -- Rosacea has been found more common in individuals who tend to flush or blush easily. Frequent flushing was reported by 63 percent of sufferers.
  • Relatives with Symptoms -- Forty percent of rosacea sufferers surveyed could identify a relative with the signs of rosacea.
  • Northern European Ancestry -- Americans of Irish, English, Scottish, Scandinavian or eastern European ancestry are especially prone to rosacea. However, it appears in individuals of all nationalities and racial backgrounds.
  • Gender -- More women are treated for rosacea, but the disease may be more severe in men. This pattern may simply be because men are more likely to delay seeking medical help until the condition reaches severe stages.

If you fit into one or more of these high-risk groups, you should be aware of the early signs of rosacea. One of the most distinguishing features of rosacea is that it often first appears as a redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that comes and goes. More than 70 percent of 1,400 rosacea patients described this facial redness as their first symptom of the disease.

Other potential early signs of rosacea may include:

  • Flushing or redness that lasts unusually long.
  • Small dilated blood vessels visible on the face.
  • Bumps or pimples on the face.
  • Bad reaction to acne medication.
  • Facial stinging, burning and itching.
  • Eyes that feel gritty or appear watery.

A key to effective control of rosacea is to seek treatment early, before the development of more intrusive signs and symptoms such as severe inflammation, enlargement of the nose from excess tissue or reduced vision.

If you are in one or more of the high-risk groups for rosacea and experience any of these early signs, see your dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Rosacea can usually be brought under control with oral and topical therapy available by prescription, as well as lifestyle modifications to avoid factors that may trigger flare-ups in individual cases.

For comprehensive information on rosacea, visit the National Rosacea Society Web site at rosacea.org, or call its toll-free number at 1-888-NO-BLUSH. Information and educational materials are also available by writing the National Rosacea Society, 196 James Street, Barrington, Illinois 60010 or via email at rosaceas@aol.com.

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Mary Erhard / Andrew Huff