Each year, the National Rosacea Society (NRS) designates April as Rosacea Awareness Month to educate the public on the impact of this chronic and widespread facial disorder that is estimated to affect more than 16 million Americans.
“The earliest signs of rosacea are often overlooked because people assume they are temporary and will go away,” said Dr. John Wolf, chairman of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Unfortunately, without medical treatment the effects of rosacea often persist and become increasingly severe.”
In an NRS survey, 47% of patients said they had never heard of rosacea prior to receiving their diagnosis, and 95% said they knew little or nothing about the signs and symptoms prior to that time. The goal of Rosacea Awareness Month is to spread public education on this disease so that more people who may have it seek medical help before it gets worse, and so those whose lives are affected can find greater public acceptance and understanding.
Here are some ways to spread awareness and understanding during April and throughout the year.
Look for opportune moments to discuss rosacea. When the conversation seems right, casually mention you have rosacea, a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects about one in 20 Americans. Note that several celebrities are reported to have rosacea, including Cynthia Nixon, Julia Fox, Bill Clinton and Princess Diana.
Dispel myths. Some people associate red faces and noses with heavy drinking, and acne-like symptoms with poor hygiene. Point out that both are untrue. Rosacea is unrelated to hygiene and, while alcohol can aggravate the disorder, symptoms can be just as severe in someone who doesn’t drink.
Describe the fluctuating nature of rosacea. Explain how rosacea causes redness, bumps and pimples, eye irritation and other symptoms that can become worse during a flare-up. Let them know you try to avoid personal triggers and control the condition with medication.
Keep rosacea information on hand. Keep rosacea.org open in a browser tab on your phone or a copy of Rosacea Review or a booklet about rosacea handy for those who are interested in more information. They may know someone else with rosacea symptoms who should see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate therapy.
Share on social media. Take part in the effort by sharing NRS Facebook and blog posts with your friends, and inviting them to follow the NRS on social media. Use the hashtag #RosaceaAwareness to join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
More resources are available online at www.rosacea.org/ram.