Although the physical and emotional turmoil suffered by many of the estimated 14 million Americans with rosacea has been well documented, medical data indicate that less than 10 percent are receiving treatment for the disease. April has been designated Rosacea Awareness Month by the National Rosacea Society to encourage those who suffer from this conspicuous and often life-disruptive facial disorder to seek medical help before it reaches advanced stages.
During Rosacea Awareness Month, the National Rosacea Society will conduct extensive public education activities to increase awareness of rosacea and the need for early diagnosis and treatment. "Rosacea Awareness" pins are also available to rosacea sufferers at no charge from the National Rosacea Society to encourage others to learn about this little-known but common disorder.
Although rosacea is becoming increasingly widespread as the populous baby boom generation enters the most susceptible ages, a Gallup survey found that 78 percent of Americans have no knowledge of this common disorder. Because of its effects on personal appearance, however, it can cause significant emotional, social and even occupational problems if left untreated.
In recent surveys by the National Rosacea Society, nearly 68 percent of rosacea sufferers said this condition had lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem, and 41 percent reported it had caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements. Among rosacea patients with severe symptoms, 66 percent said the disorder had adversely affected their professional interactions, and 28 percent said it may even have negatively influenced their being chosen for a new job or promotion.
"These findings underscore the practical importance of obtaining medical treatment before the unsightly effects of rosacea become increasingly intrusive on daily life," said Dr. Jerome Z. Litt, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University. "Fortunately, medical therapy is now available that can effectively control the symptoms of this chronic and often progressive disorder. This can dramatically improve the quality of people's lives by restoring their personal appearance."
Rosacea usually first appears after age 30 as a redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. Over time, the redness becomes ruddier and more persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear on the surface of the skin. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop, and in many rosacea sufferers the eyes also may be affected, feeling gritty and appearing watery or bloodshot.
In advanced cases, the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. This is the condition, called rhinophyma, that gave the late comedian W.C. Fields his trademark red bulbous nose.
Because the underlying causes and other key aspects of this widespread condition are unknown, the National Rosacea Society has recently established a research grants program to encourage greater scientific knowledge of this poorly understood disorder. The Society has issued grants for important new studies that may lead to improvements in the treatment, control or prevention of rosacea, and medical researchers may now obtain application forms for grants to be awarded during 2001.