Although rosacea is an extremely common condition, there is surprisingly little public awareness about it. Rosacea can affect anywhere from 1% to 22% of people depending on how the epidemiological data is sourced, but it’s clear that this isn’t a rare condition.1 Rosacea can affect anyone, but it most commonly affects those of Northern European descent. It affects women more often, but men tend to have more severe cases. There is no cure for rosacea, and its root cause is still unknown although there are several theories that have been proposed.2 Currently, patients focus on treatments to control symptoms and to prevent the progression of their rosacea. There are, however, effective treatments that can keep the symptoms at bay.
Quality of Life
One of the lessons that we try to take seriously is that any condition that reduces quality of life is a serious matter. Very few skin conditions are life-threatening, but because skin conditions are so visible and difficult to hide, many of them have a significant effect on a patient’s quality of life, and rosacea is one of those conditions.
Rosacea isn’t particularly dangerous, but it can impact a patient’s self-perception and influence their lifestyle choices. Depression is strongly associated with rosacea, much more than its association with alcohol, which has strong mental associations in public opinion.3 This is consistent with studies on other dermatological conditions like psoriasis, or even acne. Any visible condition has a significant social and psychological impact on patients, and although public education helps stave off the worst prejudices, it will still have an impact on patients and they will need support from a variety of angles.
Even for those with mild rosacea, it can still have a restrictive effect on a patient’s lifestyle. This is because rosacea intersects with so many lifestyle factors – the foods we eat, what we drink, how we bathe, and how or if we exercise.
Dermatologist Lifestyle Advice
Sun safety consistently comes up as a major stumbling block for rosacea patients. From both patient surveys as well as physician opinion, sun exposure is the most common trigger for worsening rosacea symptoms.4
Sun exposure – UV exposure both short and long-term effects. In the short term, it worsens the symptoms, and in the long-term, it drives the progression of rosacea. This is in addition to the normal downsides of sun exposure such as sunburn, an increase in the risk of skin cancer, and accelerates skin aging.
Skincare – less is more when it comes to cosmetics. Although rosacea is not an allergy, similar principles apply in terms of preventing flare-ups. The fewer ingredients there are, the less likely it becomes that your skin responds poorly with one of them. When you do find a routine that works for you, stick with it.
Heat – Exercise, baths, hot, and spicy foods and beverages are all common triggers for worsening rosacea. Many of rosacea’s triggers relate to heat – both a rise in temperature or a subjective feeling of heat. If you do notice that you may be flaring, simply applying some cold water on the face early can reduce the intensity of the symptoms.
Balance – We believe in finding balance. You want to be aware, and knowledgeable about triggers that can worsen rosacea symptoms, but you also don’t want to make fighting rosacea your life. It’s not the end of the world if you experience a flare-up. You need to strike a balance between enjoying life and keeping rosacea symptoms at bay.
Like many skin conditions, the majority of patients will have mild disease, less will have moderate disease, and few will have severe disease. Many of the symptoms of mild rosacea like redness, flushing, and pimples aren’t specific to rosacea and might not illicit concern. After all, these are natural reactions of the body, and almost everyone has experienced a pimple or two from acne. If these symptoms persist, however, it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist. Even if the symptoms aren’t immediately concerning, rosacea can be a progressive condition, meaning that the symptoms may worsen over time if it isn’t diagnosed and treated.