The many potential signs and symptoms of rosacea may so closely mimic other skin conditions that it has often been called “The Great Impostor.” The National Rosacea Society (NRS) has designated April as Rosacea Awareness Month to alert the public to the warning signs of this chronic and conspicuous facial disorder now estimated to affect more than 16 million Americans.
“To many people, the flushing or redness of rosacea may unknowingly resemble a sunburn, and the papules and pustules may be mistaken for a typical case of acne,” said Dr. Richard Odom, professor of dermatology at the University of California-San Francisco. “Adding to the confusion, even fewer are likely to associate the eye problems of ocular rosacea with a skin disorder.”
He noted that this lack of understanding causes many rosacea sufferers to delay seeing a dermatologist because they assume they have a temporary condition that will go away by itself. Without medical help, however, the effects of rosacea usually persist and may grow increasingly severe.
The NRS awareness campaign is designed not only to raise public recognition of the many “faces of rosacea,” but also to emphasize the importance of seeking professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment -- before the disorder becomes increasingly intrusive in people’s emotional, social and professional lives. In surveys conducted by the NRS, more than 76 percent of rosacea patients said uncontrolled rosacea had lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem, and 41 percent reported that it had caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements.
Unfortunately, even though more Americans than ever are now estimated to suffer from rosacea, only a small fraction are being treated. In an effort to reach the growing number of rosacea sufferers, the NRS will conduct public service announcements and other educational activities during Rosacea Awareness Month and throughout the year.
“People need to know rosacea is a chronic disorder that can be effectively controlled with medical therapy and lifestyle modifications,” Dr. Odom said. “This can substantially improve the quality of their lives.”
In addition to mimicking the signs of other disorders, rosacea’s signs and symptoms may vary from one patient to another. According to the NRS standard classification of rosacea, developed by a consensus committee and review panel of 17 experts worldwide, any of the following primary signs may indicate rosacea: flushing or transient erythema (redness), persistent or nontransient erythema, papules (bumps) and pustules (pimples), and telangiectasia (visible blood vessels). 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 bumps and pimples.
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 potential signs and symptoms.
For more information, visit All About Rosacea.
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.