Rosacea's impact on well-being can be profound
April 1, 2019
Although a cure for rosacea has yet to be discovered, advances in medical therapy have made it increasingly possible for those who suffer from this chronic disorder to achieve clear skin. At the same time, recent surveys have shown just how important this attainable goal is to patients’ physical and mental well-being. The National Rosacea Society has designated April as Rosacea Awareness Month to educate the public on the current understanding of this often life-disruptive condition estimate to affect more than 16 million Americans and 415 million worldwide, urging those with warning signs to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate therapy.
Rosacea is a chronic disorder of the facial skin that is often characterized by flare-ups and remissions. Although rosacea varies from one patient to another, it typically begins at any time after age 30 as a flushing or erythema (redness) on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead and may come and go. Additional major signs include papules (bumps) and pustules (pimples), telangiectasia (visible blood vessels) and certain ocular manifestations. The presence of two or more major features independent of the diagnostic signs is also considered diagnostic of rosacea, and secondary signs and symptoms include burning or stinging, swelling and dry appearance.
“Recent studies of the burden of illness in rosacea have found that the condition can profoundly impact quality of life, especially because of its effect on personal appearance, said Dr. Linda Stein Gold, director of dermatology clinical research at the Henry Ford Health System. “In so many cases, all it takes is a single blemish or a single comment about having a red face to ruin someone’s day.”
She notes that patients may often be reluctant to talk about the full burden of rosacea with their doctor, who in turn may underestimate the disease’s emotional, social and occupational impact.
In a Rosacea Society survey of 1,675 rosacea patients, 90 percent said rosacea’s effect on personal appearance had lowered their self-esteem and self-confidence, and 52 percent said they had avoided face-to-face contact because of the disorder. In another survey, 51 percent of those with severe symptoms said they had even missed work because of their condition.
When the signs and symptoms of rosacea are completely eliminated, the improvement in patients’ quality of life can often be dramatic. Treatment success is usually defined as reaching a score of 1 (“almost clear”) or 0 (“clear”) on the five-point Investigator Global Assessment (IGA) scale used by clinical r4esearchers to gauge the effectiveness of medical therapies. In a recent clinical study, 49 percent of the rosacea patients who had achieve a score of “clear” said their condition had no impact on their quality of life, compared with 30 percent of the respondents who had reach “almost clear”. Patients who reached “clear” also reported significantly less need to modify their daily habits due to rosacea, and had fewer doctor visits per year.
“Rosacea’s signs and symptoms can differ greatly from individual to individual, so determining the optimal medical therapy for each patient is important,” said Dr. Stein Gold. “Effective therapy can not only get symptoms under control sooner and lead to longer remission times, but may also put a halt to the progression of the disease.”
During April and throughout the year, individuals may call the National Rosacea Society’s toll-free telephone number at 1-888-NO-BLUSH (1-888-662-5874) for information and other helpful materials; visit rosacea.org; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to National Rosacea Society, 196 James Street, Barrington, IL 60010.