Is Rosacea Genetic?

Despite how common rosacea is–with more than 16 million Americans currently affected–the causes of this condition still remain fairly unknown (National Rosacea Society). While researchers have long suspected that rosacea could be, at least in part, caused by genetics, we still don’t have the evidence to say for sure. However, ongoing rosacea research continues to uncover important clues about the possible causes of this condition.

Once we more fully understand what causes the skin redness, flushing and lesions associated with rosacea, we can develop new treatment methods that work to target these underlying causes, rather than just masking the visible symptoms. So far, here’s what we know.

The Latest Research

In a 2015 study originally published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers teamed up with a genomics and biotechnology company called 23andMe to identify the possible link between genetics and rosacea. Since rosacea tends to be the most prominent in people of European descent with fair skin, this study only included participants who fit this general description. Of this group, anyone who had ever been diagnosed with rosacea was put into one group. Everyone else was placed in the control group.

Researchers then compared the genomes of the participants in the rosacea group with those in the control group. In particular, they were looking for key differences in nucleotides, which form the basic structure of DNA, between the two groups.

Interestingly, there were only two notable differences in nucleotides among the groups. Within the rosacea group, researchers discovered that two regions of the genome were unique to those participants. They were located near genes that are already known to be associated with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease (Stanford Medicine).

These findings suggest that the visible signs of rosacea on the skin may be a symptom of an underlying inflammatory or autoimmune disorder. Understanding more about this genetic connection between skin symptoms and underlying conditions could have a huge impact on the way that physicians approach rosacea treatment.

Current Treatments for Rosacea

As more evidence is brought to light regarding the potential link between red, flushed skin and genetics, we will undoubtedly be able to develop more effective treatments for rosacea. Current rosacea treatments are aimed at reducing the skin inflammation, redness and bumps that rosacea causes, although it’s still important to talk to your doctor about additional health risks that rosacea sufferers may have (National Rosacea Society).

Fortunately, the treatment options to help you reduce visible rosacea symptoms on the skin continue to become more advanced and effective. Most recently, Rhofade™ was approved by the FDA as a safe and effective topical cream to relieve redness associated with rosacea. It works by temporarily causing facial blood vessels to shrink. Clinical trials for Rhofade™ found that these results can last up to 12 hours, so you only need to apply this cream once each day for all-day relief from redness.

Oracea®, on the other hand, is an oral antibiotic that has been shown to treat the small acne-like bumps that some people with rosacea experience. This treatment, however, won’t reduce signs of redness or flushing.

For more information about treating rosacea, take a look at this blog on the most up-to-date treatment methods available.

The Bottom Line

There’s still much research to be done to better understand what causes rosacea and how to treat it. While the latest research certainly seems to be pointing in the direction of genetics as a probable cause of this condition, the truth is that we’re still not sure. In the meantime, work closely with your doctor and dermatologist to help improve redness and flushing while also helping to reduce health risks that could be associated with having rosacea.

October 1, 2017 Rosacea