BARRINGTON, Illinois (February 6, 2009) -- While the negative impact of rosacea on personal and professional life is increasingly recognized, new research continues to suggest that this often life-disruptive disorder may be far more common than is widely believed. The National Rosacea Society (NRS) has designated April as Rosacea Awareness Month to alert the public to the warning signs of this conspicuous, red-faced condition now estimated to affect well over 14 million Americans.
"The early clues to rosacea are confusing for many people because the signs and symptoms often come and go, and are easily mistaken for something else," said Dr. Jonathan Wilkin, chairman of the NRS medical advisory board. "Unfortunately, without medical treatment rosacea usually continues and may become worse, and can have substantial impact not only physically but on an individual's emotional, social and work life."
In NRS surveys, more than 76 percent of rosacea patients said their condition had lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem, and 52 percent reported that it had caused them to avoid public contact or social engagements. Among rosacea patients with severe symptoms, nearly 70 percent said the disorder had adversely affected their professional interactions and nearly 30 percent said they had even missed work because of their condition -- which may be especially harmful in today's economic setting.
During Rosacea Awareness Month, public education activities will be conducted by the NRS to increase awareness and understanding of this widespread disorder, emphasizing its warning signs and urging those who suspect they may have the condition to see a dermatologist or other physician. In addition, bulk quantities of NRS educational materials are available to health professionals for their patients.
Although rosacea varies from one patient to another, its primary signs may include facial flushing or transient erythema (redness), persistent erythema, papules (bumps) and pustules (pimples), and telangiectasia (visible blood vessels), according to the NRS standard classification of rosacea, developed by a consensus committee and review panel of 17 experts worldwide. Secondary features may include burning or stinging, plaques (raised patches on the skin), a dry appearance, edema (swelling), ocular manifestations and phymatous changes, in which the skin thickens.
The standard subtypes of rosacea reflect the most common patterns of signs and symptoms, and characteristics of more than one subtype may occur at the same time. Subtype 1 (erythematotelangiectatic) rosacea is characterized by flushing and persistent redness on the central portion of the face, while subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea also features papules and pustules. Subtype 3 (phymatous) rosacea includes thickening of the skin, irregular nodularities and enlargement, especially of the nose. Subtype 4 is ocular rosacea, where the eyes may have a watery or bloodshot appearance, the sensation of a foreign body, burning or stinging, dryness, itching, light sensitivity or a host of other signs and symptoms.
Results of an NRS-funded study, recently presented by Dr. Maeve McAleer and colleagues at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin, found that 14.4 percent of 1,000 subjects examined in Ireland had rosacea. Based on this and other studies, as well as additional potential factors, it is estimated that rosacea may be substantially more prevalent than is widely believed.
"As a chronic disorder that is characterized by exacerbations and remissions, the incidence of rosacea may be significantly underestimated because the signs and symptoms are not present in all affected individuals at all times," Dr. Wilkin said. "As a result, the number of people affected by rosacea may actually be substantially higher than has been traditionally reported, despite its frequently significant impact on people's lives."
During April and throughout the year, individuals may call the National Rosacea Society's toll-free telephone number at 1-888-NO-BLUSH to receive free information and Rosacea Review, a newsletter for rosacea patients. The NRS also offers a "Rosacea Diary" to help patients identify and avoid lifestyle factors that may trigger flare-ups in their individual cases, as well as booklets on "Understanding Rosacea," "Managing Rosacea" and "Coping with Rosacea."
Information is also available by visiting the NRS Web site at www.rosacea.org; writing the National Rosacea Society, 800 S. Northwest Highway, Suite 200, Barrington, Illinois 60010; or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Rosacea Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people with rosacea by raising awareness, providing public health information and supporting medical research on this widespread but little-known disorder. The information the Society provides should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace
consultation with a qualified physician. The Society does not evaluate, endorse or recommend any particular medications, products, equipment or treatments. Rosacea may vary substantially from one patient to another, and treatment must be tailored by a physician for each individual case. For more information, visit About Us.