Flushing: it’s all in your nerves and emotions

In November 2006 I blogged about taking part in some research at Murdoch University investigating the relationship between stress and the flushing of rosacea.

Recently the researcher, Daphne Su, has thanked the trial participants by circulating a summary document. The research has been written up as a thesis so this summary was a short description of some the research findings. Here is what I have taken away from the summary. Three of the findings look interesting for rosacea sufferers.

  1. The over activity of axon reflexes contributes to facial flushing.

    By measuring the axon reflex response with acetylcholine iontophoresis it was suggested that the neural pathways (how your nerves mediate a flush) were more important in the flushing response compared to cutaneous endothelial function (blood vessel dilation).

  2. Emotional flushing in rosacea sufferers may be maintained by a combination of both cognitive and physiological factors.

    Type 2 rosacea sufferers had more facial blood flow and felt more aroused during an embarrassing task, compared to Type 1 rosacea sufferers. Taken together with Point 1, it is suggested that it is a combination of both physiological and cognitive factors causing increased facial blood flow. 

  3. The stress and fear of blushing can be mitigated by psychological intervention such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Task Concentration Training.

As it appears that both the perception of a facial flush and the physiological response are important factors, psychological intervention may also be an important part of a treatment regime. The trial participants in the final phase of the research were offered CBT and TCT to help them cope with stress and anxiety. All showed a decrease in anxiety symptoms.

Daphe Su has submitted her PhD thesis, so when it has been accepted she will become a bone fide Rosacea PhD. It is thought that this is the first PhD thesis on rosacea. Well done !! Her supervisor, Professor Peter Drummond is also interested in supervising more Rosacea students in the future.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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4 Reader Comments

  1. sir
    i an indian guy and i wish to be a volunteer in the up coming studies

  2. Hello Adrian, as far as I know this particular branch of research has concluded for now.

  3. Lou says:

    I have a problem with anxiety and Rosacea.
    And I see personally the linkage between the daily
    stress and the flushing reaction.
    Has anything been done using hypnosis to control Rosacea flushing reactions?

  4. Nancy says:

    I have a severe case of rosacea where I blush easily. I take very high doses of the beta blocker Proranolol along with Cymbalta and Amatryptiline. My doctor as suggested I think about a sympathic nerve block and I was wondering if anyone here has heard of this or has experience with it’s effectiveness in treating rosacea?

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