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Rosacea: Getting under the skin of an enigma

Rashes Skin changes
Rosacea can be an extremely distressing condition, both mentally and physically, writes Mark Greener

The chronic inflammation that underlies rosacea can cause distressing symptoms including facial flushing, redness, pimples, pustules as well as burning and stinging sensations.1 Sometimes, rosacea can result in disfiguring changes, such as rhinophyma – an enlarged, distorted, bulbous nose.2

Not surprisingly, rosacea’s visible symptoms often cause considerable embarrassment, anxiety and low self-esteem as well as markedly undermining health–related quality of life (HRQoL).1 But rosacea’s effects may be more than skin deep: the underlying inflammation seems to be associated with several other serious conditions. And, in many ways, rosacea remains shrouded in mystery.

A common condition

There is little doubt, for example, that rosacea is relatively common. Quite how common isn’t clear, however: estimates of the prevalence (total number of cases) vary from 0.1% to 22%.3,2 A UK study suggested an incidence (number of new cases) of 1.65 per 1000 patient years.3

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