Study Shows High Incidence
A new study funded by the National Rosacea Society provides further evidence that rosacea may be far more common than widely believed, and also assesses the potential significance of sun exposure.
The recently completed study, presented at the 2008 British Association of Dermatologists meeting by Dr. Maeve McAleer and colleagues at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and the School of Public Health and Population Science, University College, Dublin, found that 14.4 percent of 1,000 subjects examined in Ireland had rosacea.
This high prevalence rate is comparable to preliminary study results that found rosacea in 16 percent of Caucasian women in the United States.1 The U.S. data, reported last year by Dr. Alexa Boer Kimball, director of the clinical unit for research in skin care at Harvard Medical School, were based on examination of high-resolution digital photographs of 2,933 volunteers. An earlier study of 806 office workers examined in Sweden found a rosacea prevalence of 14 percent in women and 6 percent in men.2
While the more recent studies are based on the standard classification system published by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee for the Classification and Staging of Rosacea in 2002, Dr. McAleer noted that earlier studies did not have defined criteria for diagnosing the condition.
To investigate the potential effects of sun exposure, the Irish study included 500 residents of the Aran Islands, an area off the western coast of Ireland, and 500 hospital workers in Dublin. The Aran Islanders reportedly had greater sun exposure due to their outdoor occupations of fishing and farming, compared with the hospital workers.
The researchers found that the Aran Islanders and the hospital workers had similar rates of subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea, characterized by bumps and pimples, at 2.8 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. However, they found that 16.3 percent of the Aran Island group had subtype 1 (erythematotelangiectatic) rosacea, characterized by facial redness, compared with a subtype 1 prevalence rate of 6.8 percent in the hospital workers.
The NRS is currently funding a study led by Dr. Yolanda Helfrich, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan, to examine the potential differences and similarities between rosacea and sun damage.
1. New studies show high incidence of rosacea and possible new causes. Rosacea Review 2007;summer:1.
2. Berg M, Liden S. An epidemiological study of rosacea. Acta Dermato-Venereologica 1989;69:419-423.
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