Rosacea Effects Go Beyond Skin Deep

June 23, 2015
Rachel Lutz

Negative perceptions of facial redness affect rosacea patients' social, emotional, and psychological wellbeing.

Negative perceptions of facial redness affect rosacea patients’ social, emotional, and psychological wellbeing.

In a recent survey, 6831 respondents from 8 countries were shown images of faces with and without rosacea-related erythema and asked to associate or discard terms appearing next to each image.

Clear faces were commonly associated with good health and positive personality traits, such as “relaxed,” “healthy,” and “well,” whereas faces with erythema were often linked to poor health and negative traits, such as “sick,” “stressed,” and “insecure.”

These negative first impressions of faces with erythema were reflected in the respondents’ prejudice of the depicted individual’s work and social status, as they indicated they were significantly less likely to hire the subject with rosacea for a job or become his or her friend.

“Our research highlights that people with facial erythema not only have to manage the physical symptoms, but also the psychological challenges of the disease—including the prejudice and negative perceptions of others, which causes daily stress and disturbance,” stated psychodermatologist and survey co-author Linda Papadopoulos. “As such, it’s imperative that when treating clients, health practitioners are aware of and address the psychosocial impact of this condition. …Sufferers can regain control over their condition and symptoms once diagnosed, so it’s important that those affected feel empowered to seek help.”

Participants who self-reported facial erythema in this “Face Values: Global Perceptions Survey” answered a separate set of questions about how their condition affects various aspects of daily life, including their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Many of these respondents felt others judged them unfairly, and nearly half had experienced a direct reaction about their rosacea, with 26% having different skincare routines recommended to them, 15% being told they drink too much, and 15% being labeled with having acne.

Furthermore, 36% of these participants reported feeling uncomfortable meeting new people, and nearly one-third said they felt uncomfortable when dating. More than three-quarters reported the appearance of their skin had an emotional cost ranging from embarrassment to sadness or depression.

“These results strengthen our commitment as physicians to help our patients better understand the medical nature of rosacea and to address both the psychological and physical aspects of the condition through appropriate treatment,” stated lead survey author Thomas Dirschka. “As with many skin conditions, the symptoms are directly visible, but patients should not be held back in everyday life, as support is available.”

The survey was funded by Galderma and its results were published in Dermatology and Therapy.