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Rosacea, UV Radiation, and Skin Cancer Risk

Over 16 million Americans suffer from rosacea, a skin disease with no known cause and no known cure. While there is no cure, there are many different treatment options for those who suffer from the symptoms which can be uncomfortable and painful in some cases. Like many skin conditions, many find the symptoms to be embarrassing as they are so apparent, which can cause emotional distress and low self esteem. The key to rosacea is not only knowing how you are affected, as each patient experiences different symptoms and subsets, but also knowing the risks you have for other more serious diseases, skin conditions, and cancers, including thyroid cancer and basal cell carcinoma.[1] And new research does show that UV radiation may make symptoms worse and/or be a role in the onset of rosacea.

 

Types

As stated there are different subsets of rosacea that those diagnosed experience. There are four types but that doesn’t each patient fits perfectly into each type, many experience symptoms of multiple subsets.

Subset one is a mouthful called erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, otherwise known as ETR. This type is characterized by scaly, itchy, or stinging skin, facial reddening, swollen skin, visible broken blood vessels, and flushing. ETR is a very common form of rosacea and many who experience other subsets often have symptoms of ETR as well.[2]

Papulopustular rosacea is subset two. It is also known as acne rosacea. The signs of this type include acne-like breakouts of the skin, oily skin, raised patches, and broken blood vessels. This type mostly affects middle age women.

The third type is called rhinophyma. This form is very rare and is characterized by the thickening of skin around the nose. Those who suffer from rhinophyma may also experience large pores and thick skin on the chin, forehead, ears, and cheeks as well. Mostly men are affected by rhinophyma and usually sufferers are often suffering from other symptoms of other subtypes.

The last type of rosacea is called ocular rosacea and affects your eyes and the skin around the eyes. Those with this type experience watery, itchy, bloodshot eyes, burning or stinging sensations of the eyes, eyes that are sensitive to light, cysts on the eyes and diminished vision.

While there is not one pinpointed cause of rosacea, the condition does seem to be hereditary in some cases and affects those between 30 and 50 years old and those with fair skin the most. Women of celtic or scandinavian descent and have suffered from acne in the past also seem to be at risk. Because these characteristics are more at risk, research does show that UV radiation does play a role in triggering your symptoms.[3]

UV Radiation and Skin Cancer Risks

Those who suffer from rosacea should take precaution when it comes to the sun and ultraviolet rays. Direct sunlight and uv radiation seems to trigger many of the symptoms of rosacea and can make symptoms like broken blood vessels, thick skin, and red scaly patches. In a recent study by the National Rosacea Society, it was found that 81% of rosacea sufferers reported that sun exposure aggravated their condition. Those who suffer from rosacea should always take precaution when outside, wearing sun-safe clothing and always using sunscreen of at least SPF 30.[4]

Rosacea sufferers should also watch out for other conditions they are at risk for such as non-melanoma skin cancers. It was recently found that 77% of rosacea sufferers also developed other skin condition, and 27% said they developed basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma. While the two diseases are mostly unrelated it it found that those who do have rosacea are more susceptible to skin diseases and cancers. Those with rosacea must keep an eye out for any signs of non-melanoma skin cancers and see their doctor immediately if they notice anything out of the ordinary.[5]

 

References:

[1] Del Rosso, James. "Survey Reveals Rosacea Patients Often Have Other Skin Conditions." NRA.

[2] ibid.

[3] Drake, Lynn, M.D. "National Rosacea Society Improving 16 Million Lives through Awareness, Education and Research." Survey Reveals Rosacea Patients Often Have Other Skin Conditions. NRS.

[4] ibid.

[5] Choi, Young. "Trends in the Frequency of Original Research in Acne Vulgaris, Rosacea, Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Skin Cancer, and Skin Infections, 1970-2010." Permj The Permanente Journal (2015): 44-47.

Caitlyn