Many of us covet just-flushed cheeks—a hallmark of good healthy and vitality—but if you’re one of an estimated 16 million Americans with rosacea, a chronic skin disorder marked by a ruddy, red complexion, life may not be so rosy. In a study conducted by The National Rosacea Society, 76 percent of respondents said it dashed their self-confidence and 41 percent reported it had caused them to cancel social engagements or avoid hanging out in public.
Even though the skin condition affects about five percent of the population, rosacea is often misunderstood. “Rosacea is one of the most under-diagnosed skin conditions affecting adults,” says Fredric Brandt, M.D. a dermatologist based in New York and Miami. In fact, a Gallup survey found that nearly 70 percent of Americans have no knowledge of its existence, including how to recognize and treat it. Here’s the 411 on rosacea:
What it is—and is not: Redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead are telltale signs of rosacea. The skin condition is often accompanied by small visible blood vessels on the face, acne or watery, irritated eyes.
Rosacea is a progressive disease. It’s kind of like that closet you keep meaning to organize, which only gets worse when left unattended. If you take care of rosacea early on, though, it can be managed. The problem is, most people mistakenly identify rosacea as another skin issue. Leslie Baumann, M.D., a dermatologist, researcher and author, says she comes across many patients who simply think they just have abnormally sensitive skin. “I rarely have a patient come in and say ‘I have rosacea,’” she says. “They say, ‘My skin is always red,’ instead.”
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