Could Rosacea Impact Your Quality of Life?
Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects over 16 million Americans. It is characterized by red flushing of the skin and small pimple-like bumps. Although its exact cause remains unknown, evidence suggests that genetics and a specific type of mite called Demodex may be partially to blame. Click here for a brief video about “What is Rosacea?”.
In addition to learning more about the underlying causes of this condition, a growing body of research has uncovered important findings about the much lesser-known psychological impact of rosacea that may accompany its physical symptoms. In fact, an estimated 75 percent of those living with rosacea experience lowered self-esteem (National Rosacea Society).
If you are struggling with rosacea, here is what you need to know about these emotional and physical symptoms and what steps you can take to better manage them.
The Psychological Side of Rosacea
Because of the very visible nature of its symptoms, rosacea presents unique emotional, social and physical concerns for those affected by it. The red flushing for which rosacea is known most commonly appears on the nose and cheeks, which can be a source of embarrassment and low self-confidence for many people. In a survey of the rosacea patients in my practice, I found that redness is the most bothersome symptom to rosacea patients. Most report that they are red over half of the day. Many patients have described how the facial redness affects where they go, what they do, what they eat and who they speak to.
According to an online survey published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, one-third of women and men with rosacea feel stigmatized, embarrassed and isolated because of their symptoms. Of that group, 54 percent were found to avoid social situations due to those feelings of stigmatization, and another 36 percent had significantly higher rates of depression than those who did not report feeling embarrassed of their symptoms.
Similarly, a long-term study spanning over 15 years found a positive correlation between rosacea symptoms and the incidence of depression and anxiety (Dermatology). Interestingly, the results of this study found that the severity of symptoms did not seem to affect the likelihood of developing depression or anxiety. Instead, study participants with both mild and moderate-to-severe cases of rosacea reported similar rates of these psychological concerns.
What Does This Mean for the Treatment of Rosacea?
Although more and more research has brought to light the possible negative effects of rosacea symptoms on quality of life, many current treatment methods only address physical symptoms. It seems that most women and men struggling to cope with rosacea could benefit from a more comprehensive treatment approach that would address the emotional, as well as physical, impact of rosacea.
New Topical Medication for Rosacea
In January 2017 the FDA approved a new medication for rosacea that blocks the alpha 1 adrenoreceptor. Dermatologists refer to this as a “alpha 1 agonist.” I did the research trials that led to FDA approval of this new medication. The patients in the trial has less redness when the medication was applied that was seen at 3, 6, 9 and 12 hours. I do a lot of rosacea trials and I have not seen such as strong psychological response to a medication before. Patients cried at the end of the trial when we had to take the drug away! My patients and I waited over 3 years for this drug to get approved and it is finally here. I am in the process of teaching the Skin Type Solutions Approved Physicians about the science of alpha-1 agonists and how they work to safely constrict the blood vessels and treat the unwanted redness of rosacea. We expect that they will have samples of the drug as early as the first week in April.
How To Get Rid of Facial Redness
There are 4 main types of rosacea, but persistent facial erythema or redness is the most common. The facial erythema (redness) often occurs after triggers. Avoiding the common trigger such as heat, spicy food and strong emotion is often not enough. Finally there is a medication that helps constrict the blood vessels to decrease facial redness. Talk to your dermatologist about Rhofade (oxymetazoline). It is available by prescription only for persistent facial erythema. Follow us on facebook at facebook.com/TheSkinTypeSolution. We will announce when it is officially available. Why am i so excited? I have rosacea myself and have been waiting to use this game changing technology since I did the first research trial on it 5 years ago! How do you know if you have rosacea? Click here for a great story on Self.com about this.
Tips for Living with Rosacea
While there is currently no cure for rosacea, there are several treatment options available, as well as steps you can take to help minimize your physical symptoms to help improve your overall satisfaction with life.
First, understanding and avoiding your individual triggers for rosacea flare-ups is an integral part of better managing your symptoms. Some of the most common triggers include sun exposure, spicy foods, hot beverages, changes in weather, stress and alcohol consumption (National Rosacea Society).
Next, talk to your dermatologist about the most appropriate medical treatments for you. Be sure to maintain an open line of communication with him or her, and discuss any emotional symptoms that may come along with your physical symptoms. Your dermatologist can also recommend gentle skincare products that can help to calm and soothe your skin type rather than exacerbate its condition.
The Bottom Line
If you feel that rosacea is hindering yourself esteem in ANY way, it is so important that you take steps to treat the symptoms of rosacea. In the research study that led to FDA approval of Rhofade (Oxymetazoline), patients told me that they did not realize how much they were bothered by their rosacea until it went way. Effectively treating your physical symptoms can dramatically change the way you feel about your appearance.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that you are not alone in feeling stigmatized or embarrassed by your red skin. Being open and honest about these feelings with yourself is huge step in the direction towards improving both your physical and emotional wellbeing. I have it too! If you want to commiserate, join me and the other Skin Type Solutions Approved Physicians at facebook.com/theskintypesolution. You can learn more about the new prescription medication oxymetazoline.
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.