Blushing or Flushing May Signal Onset of Chronic Facial Disorder

BARRINGTON, Illinois (October 22, 2002) -- Blushing or flushing on the face may signal the onset of rosacea, a conspicuous and potentially life-disruptive facial disorder now affecting an estimated 14 million Americans, according to a new survey published in Rosacea Review.

In the survey of 1,104 rosacea patients, conducted by the National Rosacea Society, 53 percent reported that blushing or flushing was the first sign of the condition they experienced, while 27 percent said their first sign included persistent facial redness. On the other hand, 22 percent of the respondents reported their first sign was bumps or pimples, and 12 percent said eye symptoms appeared first.

"Recognizing the early signs of rosacea is important because without treatment, this chronic condition tends to become increasingly severe and intrusive on everyday life," said Dr. John Wolf, chairman of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine. "Anyone who suspects they have rosacea should see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate therapy."

The survey showed that the early signs of rosacea often advanced rapidly to additional manifestations of the disorder. Almost 40 percent of respondents said that they developed all of their rosacea signs and symptoms within a year, and 22 percent said this took place over a few months.

Although rosacea may develop in many ways, it typically begins as a flushing on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. Over time, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent, and in some cases small dilated blood vessels may appear. Without treatment, bumps and pimples often develop, and in severe cases the nose may become swollen from excess tissue -- the condition that gave the late comedian W.C. Fields his trademark bulbous nose. In many individuals, the eyes are also affected, appearing watery or bloodshot and feeling gritty or irritated.

Nearly 45 percent of survey respondents said their rosacea initially appeared when they were in their 30s and 40s, while more than 40 percent first experienced rosacea after age 50. Only 14 percent of the respondents experienced their first symptoms before the age of 30.

Blushing or flushing was the second sign of rosacea for 27 percent of the survey respondents, while persistent redness was reported as the second sign by 24 percent and bumps or pimples were experienced second by 20 percent. Other signs and symptoms often noted as the second manifestation included visible blood vessels (6 percent), eye symptoms (5 percent) and burning or stinging (5 percent).

"While a typical progression of rosacea has often been cited, this survey illustrates how development of the disorder can vary substantially on a case-by-case basis," Dr. Wolf said. "These survey results also suggest that rosacea frequently evolves from one subtype to another, and medical research to investigate this process may provide important insight for its treatment and potential prevention."

Fortunately, medical therapy was found to make a significant difference for most patients, as nearly 90 percent of survey respondents said treatment had reduced their signs and symptoms. Over the full course of their rosacea, the survey respondents reported their most common signs and symptoms at the following rates: flushing or blushing, 77 percent; bumps or pimples, 75 percent; persistent redness, 74 percent; visible blood vessels, 51 percent; eye symptoms, 51 percent; and burning or stinging, 41 percent.

For more information about rosacea, contact the National Rosacea Society, 800 S. Northwest Highway, Suite 200, Barrington, Illinois 60010 or call its toll-free number at 1-888-662-5874. Information and materials are also available on the society's Web site at, or via e-mail at

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Publication Date: 
Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Press contacts:
Mary Erhard, Emma Terhaar

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