Red Alert: Rosacea’s Social Minefield

Rosacea Awareness Month stresses social impact of facial disorder and how therapy can help

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) For 16 million Americans, rosacea brings a redness to the face that can cause self-consciousness. Rosacea Awareness Month this April highlights the social pitfalls of rosacea and treatments for the condition.

Former President Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Cameron Diaz, Renée Zellweger and Mariah Carey all share a common affliction—the “red faced” disorder called rosacea.

Because the condition brings a sudden flush to the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead, those who have it often experience emotional and social stress.

While the disease cannot be cured, medical treatments can control or eliminate its various signs. As many public figures who have rosacea can testify, the right therapies can ease the symptoms and allow patients to feel less ill-at-ease and more confident.

"Rosacea can be treated - see a doctor."

Mark Dahl, MD, chairman of the National Rosacea Society (NRS) Medical Advisory Board and professor emeritus at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, said the effect rosacea has on a person’s appearance can deliver “a disabling blow to the emotional and social lives of those who suffer from this condition.”

“In addition, the stress of facing friends, family and co-workers can act as a trigger for flare-ups, leading to a tailspin that can become increasingly difficult to bear,” added Dr. Dahl.

A recent NRS survey of 801 patients spotlighted that most patients feel the condition has inhibited their social lives.

The disease can manifest itself with bumps and pimples, and an individual can experience facial burning, itching, swelling and stinging.

With the appropriate diagnosis and therapy, however, the signs and symptoms can be controlled, making it easier for individuals to feel self-assured.

“Medical therapy, combined with trigger avoidance, can help to reduce rosacea’s impact on most patients,” Dr. Dahl said. The survey results bear this out, as 63 percent of the respondents reported improvement in their social lives following medical therapy.

Antibiotics and topical therapy are common treatments. Sometimes laser treatment or other surgical procedures may be used to remove visible blood vessels, reduce extensive redness or correct disfigurement of the nose. Eye symptoms are commonly treated with oral antibiotics and ophthalmic therapy.

Many patients also try to avoid triggers that make rosacea symptoms flare up, such as sun exposure, emotional stress, hot or cold weather, wind, heavy exercise, alcohol, spicy foods, heated beverages, humidity and certain skin care products.

To add insult to injury, many believe that rosacea sufferers may be heavy drinkers because of the redness in their face and/or nose. In fact, while alcohol may aggravate rosacea, these symptoms can be just as severe in a non-drinker.

Another common misconception is that rosacea is caused by poor hygiene, while in reality it is unrelated to personal cleanliness.

Individuals with any of the following warning signs of rosacea are urged to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment:

  • Redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead
  • Small visible blood vessels on the face
  • Bumps or pimples on the face
  • Watery or irritated eyes

For more information on the disorder, call 1-888-NO-BLUSH.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 10, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013