Rosacea Patients Seek Medical Help for Reasons Beyond Facial Appearance

BARRINGTON, Illinois (May 16, 2003) -- The common and often life-disruptive facial disorder known as rosacea is much more than a cosmetic problem and may require broader awareness within the medical community, according to a new patient survey by the National Rosacea Society. The red-faced, acne-like condition is now estimated to affect more than 14 million Americans.

In the survey of 2,113 rosacea patients, published in Rosacea Review, 45 percent said they were prompted to seek diagnosis and treatment because of the emotional, social or professional consequences of their condition, while 37 percent were motivated by the physical discomfort of rosacea symptoms. Only 33 percent of the respondents were motivated by changes in appearance alone.

"These survey results document that the impact of rosacea goes well beyond its conspicuous effects on facial appearance," said Dr. Larry Millikan, chairman of dermatology at Tulane University. "It is frequently accompanied by significant facial discomfort such as burning or stinging, as well as irritation of the eyes. Moreover, if left untreated, rosacea often directly interferes with people's work and personal lives."

Rosacea is a chronic disorder of the facial skin characterized by flare-ups and remissions. It typically begins at any time after age 30 as a flushing or redness (erythema) on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. Over time, the redness becomes ruddier and more persistent, and small dilated blood vessels (telangiectasia) may appear. Without treatment, bumps (papules) and pimples (pustules) often develop, and in severe cases, the nose may become swollen and enlarged from excess tissue (rhinophyma).

In many cases, the eyes are also affected, appearing watery or bloodshot and feeling gritty or irritated. Without medical care, this condition -- known as ocular rosacea -- can lead to corneal damage and vision loss.

After experiencing initial signs of rosacea, 53 percent of the survey respondents said they went to see a doctor within a year, and 71 percent sought diagnosis within two years. However, only 75 percent of the patients said they received a correct diagnosis the first time they sought medical help for their condition.

"This suggests there may be a need for greater awareness of the potential signs and symptoms of rosacea among all health professionals, so more people receive needed treatment," Dr. Millikan said. "Besides dermatologists, primary care physicians are often the first to see patients with this widespread disorder, and ophthalmologists may also be involved because of its common effects on the eyes."

Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said their rosacea was diagnosed by a dermatologist, while 10 percent said they were diagnosed by a general practitioner and 2 percent were diagnosed by an ophthalmologist. Two percent were diagnosed by another medical specialist such as a gynecologist, allergist, optometrist or rheumatologist.

Ninety-two percent of the survey respondents reported that medical treatment had improved their condition.

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-NO-BLUSH. Information and materials are also available on the society's Web site at, or via e-mail at

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Publication Date: 
Friday, May 16, 2003

Press contacts:
Mary Erhard, Emma Terhaar

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National Rosacea Society
196 James St.
Barrington, IL 60010

Our Mission

The National Rosacea Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people with rosacea by raising awareness, providing public health information and supporting medical research on this widespread but little-known disorder. The information the Society provides should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace

consultation with a qualified physician. The Society does not evaluate, endorse or recommend any particular medications, products, equipment or treatments. Rosacea may vary substantially from one patient to another, and treatment must be tailored by a physician for each individual case. For more information, visit About Us.