Results of a new survey by the National Rosacea Society (NRS) dispelled the common myth that rosacea usually affects people between the ages of 30 and 50, and also found that new signs and symptoms may develop decades after the initial onset of the condition.
In the NRS survey of 1,391 rosacea patients, only 43 percent said their rosacea first appeared between the ages of 30 and 50, while 39 percent reported that the disorder occurred after age 50 and an additional 17 percent said they developed rosacea prior to age 30.
"Individuals at risk for rosacea should hardly breathe a sigh of relief after the age of 50, and as with most chronic conditions there is no evidence that it necessarily dissipates with age," said Dr. William James, professor of dermatology, University of Pennsylvania. "While rosacea has been widely viewed as a disorder that strikes after early adulthood, it may be just as likely to appear after the half-century mark and may also occur much earlier in life."
Flushing was the single most common initial sign or symptom observed, named by 46 percent of the survey respondents, while persistent redness was the second most common initial sign, noted by 25 percent.
Bumps or pimples were the most common later sign of rosacea, cited by 48 percent of the respondents, and visible blood vessels were named by 41 percent. Eye irritation, burning or stinging later developed for about a third of respondents, while facial itching and dry appearance were noted by approximately one quarter. Other later signs and symptoms included swelling, raised red patches and thickening of the nose.
Fifty-seven percent of the survey respondents reported having rosacea for 10 to 30 years, and an additional 9 percent had cases that had continued even longer. Of those experiencing rosacea for 10 or more years, 42 percent reported new signs or symptoms after 10 to 20 years and 14 percent reported additional manifestations of the disorder after 20 or more years.
"Although rosacea may be characterized by relapses and remissions, it is a persistent disorder that tends to worsen over time without treatment," Dr. James said. The good news is that for the vast majority of the survey respondents -- approximately 90 percent -- medical therapy had reduced or somewhat reduced their signs or symptoms.