Unless effectively controlled, rosacea can play havoc on job interactions and employment, according to a new survey by the National Rosacea Society (NRS) on the impact in the workplace of this red-faced, poorly understood disorder now estimated to affect more than 16 million Americans.
In the survey of 1,134 rosacea patients, 60% of all respondents and 88% of those reporting severe symptoms said the disorder had negatively affected their interactions with others in the workplace. Among those with severe symptoms, 51% said they had even missed work because of their condition.
“Because the signs and symptoms appear on the most visible part of the body, rosacea is much more difficult to ignore than many other conditions,” said Dr. Boni Elewski, professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. “Beyond physical discomfort, such as facial burning and stinging or eye irritation, the effect of rosacea on personal appearance can be emotionally and socially debilitating.”
In the new survey, 69% of all respondents and 87% of those with severe symptoms said they had noticed others staring at their face when they were experiencing a rosacea flare-up. Forty-five percent of all respondents, including 66% of those with severe symptoms, had also heard rude or inappropriate comments in the workplace about their facial appearance.
Moreover, many of the patients reported that rosacea had inflicted direct damage to their careers. Nineteen percent of all respondents and 39% of those with severe symptoms felt they did not receive a job offer because of their condition. In addition, 19% of all respondents and 41% of those with severe symptoms believed they were denied a promotion or new responsibilities because of the way they looked.
“While there is no cure for rosacea, the good news is that medical therapy is available to bring its signs and symptoms under control as well as to maintain remission,” Dr. Elewski said. “Patients may also be able to help manage their condition with gentle skin care and by identifying and avoiding environmental and lifestyle factors that trigger flare-ups in their individual cases.”
Of the survey respondents who were affected by rosacea in the workplace, 78% said effective medical treatment had improved their professional interactions with others.
Rosacea is a chronic disorder that is often characterized by flare-ups and remissions. It typically begins at any time after age 30 as a flushing or redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. Over time, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear. Without treatment, bumps and pimples often develop, and in severe cases the nose may become swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. Burning and stinging are common, and in many patients the eyes are also affected, feeling irritated and appearing watery or bloodshot.
Comprehensive information and materials on rosacea are available on the NRS Web site at www.rosacea.org.