In reviewing the medical literature, as I do on a regular basis, a recent study about rosacea caught my attention. As you may know, rosacea is a relatively common skin condition that I treat here at Maine Laser Skin Care for cosmetic and aesthetic reasons.
Rosacea is characterized by redness in the middle part of the face caused by visible blood vessels, red bumps and even pimples. Despite much research, no one really knows what the root cause of rosacea is, but it is considered to be a chronic inflammatory condition.
I have always warned patients whose rosacea I treat with laser therapy about the inevitable risk of recurrence of the visible blood vessels in the year or so after treatment. This reason for this recurrence is that we are not treating the cause of rosacea (which is still unknown). We are only treating the symptoms.
Of concern in the new study is that patients with rosacea may have a higher-than-average risk for heart diseases. This study was performed by researchers in Taiwan from 1997 through 2010 with 33,553 rosacea adults compared with 67,106 control adults without the problem. The comparison used information from the national health insurance database that is considered to be extremely valid.
Patients with rosacea were found to be significantly more likely to have a number of diseases compared with those in the control group, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease (lack of circulation in the legs), and cerebral infarction (stroke). The correlation was very significant in men and less so in women.
So what to do now? If you are a male with rosacea or know or love a man with rosacea, following up with a primary care provider to get your or his blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checked would be the most prudent step. Like many other health conditions, regular exercise, getting weight down to normal body mass index, and watching carbohydrate and cholesterol intake in one’s diet is strongly encouraged.
My concern as a physician who sees a large number of rosacea patients is that the aesthetic reason for the trip to my office may just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of health issues. Rosacea may not be just the embarassing red face problem alone.
Do yourself and your family a favor and get some simple tests with your PCP to screen for cardiovascular problems. Also, for your own benefit, try to continue to lead a healthy lifestyle.