Rosacea can manifest in ways that are more than skin deep, but how do you determine if there’s something else to be concerned about? In this blog, we take a closer look at whether rosacea is ever a symptom of something else.
While rosacea is its own condition, with its own particular characteristics and symptoms, it can easily be mistaken for other skin conditions. That’s because rosacea can appear in a variety of ways, from pustular spots to flushes and pimples, mimicking the appearance of acne, various kinds of dermatitis and allergic reactions.
Because of the variety of ways rosacea can occur, it’s important to get a clear and definite diagnosis, so you know what you’re dealing with and can manage your condition appropriately.
It’s worth noting that although rosacea predominantly affects women between the age of 30-60, with pale skin, with red or blond hair, and of Northern European heritage, not every case of rosacea fits this demographic. In fact, rosacea can be underdiagnosed in skin of colour, because doctors are looking out for the classic ‘flush’ of red on pale skin, and might not consider it if that’s not visible.
But can rosacea also be the sign of something more serious? The answer is that, yes, rosacea can have associations with other issues: it’s not just a condition of the skin, but a dysfunction of the immune system that’s linked with other issues as well as the skin.
What other issues are associated with rosacea?
Over half of rosacea sufferers also develop eye problems, including have ocular rosacea, which can manifest as dry eyes, constant tears, itchy or gritty eyes, dry skin around the eyes, and blepharitis, which is when skin at the base of the eyelashes gets flaky and sore. They can also suffer from frequent sties.
There’s an association between rosacea and an overabundance of microorganisms on the skin, particularly the mite, Demodex folliculorum. This mite is commonly found living on human skin, but rosacea sufferers do seem to have higher numbers.
They also have greater quantities of small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (aka SIBO) in their gut; in fact, one study showed that being treated for SIBO improved patient’s rosacea.
Although rosacea is not a symptom of depression, depression is associated with rosacea. This is likely due to the increased stress and anxiety involved in managing the condition, and the effects on sufferers’ self-confidence and well-being. Stress is a clear trigger of skin issues and rosacea is no different; stress triggering flares, and then the flares contributing to stress is a vicious circle that can take some effort to break.
According to research, looks as if rosacea is also associated with increased risk of systemic conditions: “patients with rosacea were more likely than those without the disorder to suffer from airborne or food allergies, respiratory diseases such as asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension (high blood pressure), metabolic disorders such as diabetes, urogenital diseases such as urinary tract infection, and female hormone imbalance. Furthermore, moderate to severe rosacea was more strongly associated with hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), hypertension, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and GERD compared with mild rosacea.”
Because of the serious issues associated with rosacea beyond painful skin on the face, it’s vital that you get a diagnosis and a management plan, which should include thorough check-ups as well as a skincare regime.
For more information about rosacea and how to manage it, see our blog on Rosacea Awareness.
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If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
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