While many adults still look forward to summer as eagerly as school children, new survey results show that increased exposure to sun and hot weather can wreak havoc on those with rosacea, a widespread, red-faced skin disorder now estimated to affect more than 16 million Americans. The survey also found that a variety of common heat sources can affect the condition year-round.
In a recent survey of 431 rosacea patients conducted by the National Rosacea Society (NRS), 80 percent of the respondents said they had suffered a flare-up of symptoms as a result of being out in the sun, and 80 percent said their condition was aggravated by hot weather. Excessive indoor heat was a trigger for 56 percent of those surveyed, while 55 percent said heavy exercise had set off a rosacea flare-up. Fifty-four percent said a hot bath had induced an outbreak of rosacea signs and symptoms, and 42 percent said heated beverages had done the same. Heavy clothing had triggered a flare-up for 32 percent, and 26 percent cited menopausal hot flashes.
“Although medical therapy is available to help control this widespread and chronic disorder, it is also important for rosacea patients to identify and minimize any environmental or lifestyle factors that may trigger or aggravate their symptoms,” said Dr. Joseph Bikowski, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Ohio State University. He said he advises patients to keep a diary to determine what factors might be affecting their individual cases.
In addition to common heat triggers, survey respondents reported a host of other sources of heat that had aggravated their individual conditions, including fireplaces and bonfires, high-intensity lamps, steam baths, saunas, and cooking over a hot stove.
The good news is that the survey showed rosacea flare-ups can often be prevented. Nearly 84 percent of the respondents reported that avoiding sources of heat had reduced the frequency of their flare-ups. Seventy-four percent said they now bathe or shower in cooler water, and nearly 69 percent said they go outside less often in hot weather to avoid exacerbating their condition. Sixty-seven percent said they frequently or sometimes leave an overheated room to prevent an outbreak, and 55 percent said they had changed their exercise routine to avoid flare-ups.
“Rosacea sufferers should wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 year-round, and especially in the summer, they should minimize time outdoors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when sunlight is the strongest,” Bikowski said. He noted that a fan or chewing ice chips can effectively reduce flushing from heavy exercise or excessive indoor heat.