Nearly half of rosacea patients thought they had acne before being diagnosed, according to a new patient survey. It’s a finding that doesn’t surprise dermatologist Doris Day, M.D., who practices in Manhattan, N.Y.
“When I tell patients they have rosacea, they still think of it as a form of acne and don’t understand how it can happen now, when they didn’t have it in the past as they were growing up. When I mention they have rosacea, I ask them if they know what rosacea is and most of them don’t know. So, we’re not educating patients properly on what they have and what it means,” Dr. Day says. “Patients cannot wrap their minds around how something that looks like acne is not acne.”
Even dermatologists misdiagnose rosacea, according to Helen M. Torok, M.D., medical director, Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery, Medina, Ohio, and Dermatology Times editorial advisory board member.
“Rosacea is not just on the midface. Often patients have rosacea on the scalp, chest and back,” Dr. Torok says. “These are not considered common areas for rosacea. Dermatologists might diagnose the rosacea as folliculitis or acne and treat it with clindamycin and tretinoin, which, unfortunately, is irritating and ineffective.”
Consumers unaware, unlikely to seek care
In May 2015, Galderma Laboratories and the National Rosacea Society released findings of a national survey1 reflecting responses from 500 rosacea patients and 300 dermatologists, which found:
Half of rosacea patients report feeling unattractive, 42% say they’re embarrassed and 30% feel less confident because of the skin condition. More than half of patients don’t feel comfortable talking to their physicians about these emotional challenges. And, while nearly half of doctors say they want hear about their patients’ feelings, only 12% of patients believe this to be true.
There’s a lot patients don’t understand about rosacea. Most don’t know about key rosacea triggers. Twenty-three percent of patients try to cover up symptoms with cosmetics, but otherwise aren’t treating their symptoms. Nearly 30% say they aren’t doing anything to treat their rosacea; yet, 56% of doctors said they wish patients would more proactively manage rosacea.