What are the Causes of Rosacea?

Deborah Walker
Deborah Walker

Rosacea is a facial skin condition that results in a red rash and acne-like bumps. The causes of rosacea are not completely clear. From research that has been done to date, it appears that this condition has a strong genetic component. One of the other causes of rosacea may be an abnormality in facial blood vessels. Some research indicates that the condition may be due to a microscopic mite known as Demodex folliculorum. Although the causes of rosacea are not yet identified, some of the triggers for rosacea flare-ups are known; managing these triggers can play a large part in controlling the severity of the disease.

Researchers think that one of the causes of rosacea is genetic. Between 30-40% of people with this skin condition have close family members who also have rosacea. In particular, fair-skinned females of Irish, English, or Scottish decent seem to be more likely to develop the disease. Unfortunately, scientists have not been able to identify particular genes that predispose someone to the condition.

Another of the possible causes of rosacea are abnormal facial blood vessels that dilate too easily. Facial redness may be due to these constantly dilated vessels. Helicobacter pylori may play a part in this abnormality. In response to the bacteria, the body produces a protein called bradykinin. This protein is known to cause blood vessel dilation. Scientists suspect that the tendency towards easily dilating facial blood vessels, combined with the reaction to the bradykinins, make someone more prone to developing rosacea.

Demodex folliculorum , a type of microscopic mite that lives on the surface of human skin, is generally benign. Nonetheless, this mite is suspected of playing a role in rosacea. One study showed that a particular bacteria living on the Demodex mite could cause an inflammatory response in rosacea patients. It unclear if the reaction to the mite causes rosacea or if the rosacea inflammation is only a response to the mite. It is a chicken-and-egg situation that researchers continue to work on.

The severity of this skin condition waxes and wanes. Extreme temperatures, wind, direct sunlight, and humidity are weather conditions that may trigger worsening of symptoms. Caffeine, hot or spicy foods, hot drinks, and dairy products may also cause a flare up. Stress, anxiety, colds, and other minor illnesses, as well as medications and high blood pressure, may also impact the severity of the rosacea rash. Until a cure is found, people with rosacea are left to manage the symptoms as best they can and avoid known triggers that make their rosacea worse.

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