Sun linked to rosacea, but which came first ?

The NRS have an entry up on their weblog discussing the link between sunburn and rosacea. A study of 65 healthy subjects and 65 moderate to severe rosacea sufferers found that the rosacea patients `had significantly higher rates of blistering sunburns that those without rosacea’.

Sadly there was no conclusion as to whether the extra incidence of sunburn contributed to the severity of their rosacea or if the rosacea symptoms lead to more sunburn events.

Sunburn Linked to Rosacea

Both a blistering sunburn and a family history of rosacea were associated with the presence of rosacea, according to study results presented by Dr. Alexa Boer Kimball, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, at the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

While it was not clear whether sunburns contributed to rosacea or patients with rosacea were more likely to sunburn, she said, preventive measures could help lessen rosacea’s severity. Sun has been named the top flare-up trigger by 81 percent of patients in a National Rosacea Society survey (NRS), and in another NRS survey nearly 52 percent said someone else in their family had rosacea.

I think any possible thought that sun damage can cause rosacea is enough to highlight the fact that rosacea sufferers should use a sunscreen every day. A daily sunscreen will also help mitigate any weakness in the skin’s natural protection that might be caused by the diseased skin of rosacea.

Many rosacea sufferers find that physical sunscreens i.e. those that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as their main protective agent can work quite well to protect against the sun and elements. Additionally tinted sunscreens can also help hide the redness often associated with rosacea.


Whilst no link was found between body mass index and rosacea, Dr. Kimball notes “Future studies should explore the possible connection between a higher BMI and rosacea, as excess weight could be found to be a contributing factor to the condition.” This is worth considering as a possible contributing factor to rosacea – perhaps being overweight places and extra burden on our bodies and could cause problems with increasing our tendency to flush for eg.

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

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9 Reader Comments

  1. Dr. Frank Powell, Consultant Dermatologist, Regional Centre of Dermatology, Dublin, Ireland who serves on the NRS Medical Advisory Board, says in his new book, “Rosacea Diagnosis and Management,” about ultraviolet light:

    “The etiology of rosacea is unknown. Because it occurs on sun-exposed skin in sun-sensitive patients, ultra violet light is thought to play a part in its pathogenesis.” – page ix in the Introduction

    We may find out some day that this is true since when you think about it, maybe the sun has damaged those of us who are genetically not able to cope with too much sunlight and need extra protection. Not that sunlight is the main factor in EVERY case of rosacea, but it may have a bigger role than previously thought.

  2. pitanjara says:

    Well, I can’t agree, you see I am 4th generation Australian Aboriginal. My Great Grandmother was born in the Adelaide Hills of the Kaurna people. I have rosacea (or had rosacea, no more flushing now) but it has left its mark on my cheeks..I have Asian friends, two are nurses, one has had to quit nursing because of rosacea. I wonder how many other nationalities also suffer from rosacea? pitanjara

  3. Peter says:

    I disagree as well because I do not consider the sun or UV light in general plays a major part in someone developing rosacea. We are probably all genetically predisposed to developing the condition anyway and the sun might well be just one of many triggers an individual can have during the active period of the condition.

    Hot sun used to be the main trigger for me but the paradox was the longer I spent in the sun then my rosacea appeared to clear up, although unfortunately with leaving it untreated for years then the condition worsened and progressed. Since I started gaining control a decade ago then I find being in the sun is no longer a problem and I always feel if you are sensible about it, then a certain amount of sun exposure can have a beneficial effect for some sufferers. For your general health anyway I am not convinced that smothering yourself in potential irritating sunscreen and avoiding the sun is always a good thing.

    There is a good book available if anyone is interested in the healing powers of the sun.



  4. Kristie says:

    I personally believe there are many factors that play into the onset and progression of rosacea. As Brady stated, sun may not be a factor in EVERY case but I agree that it does play a factor in some of us.

    In my family history, we all have type 1 (traced back to my great-grandpa). My uncle who worked outside and myself who was a sun worshiper as a child, and should never have been since all I did was burn severely (blisters several times), have severe red faces with many vessels. I am 40 and my uncle is 59. Both my uncle and I started seeing the redness in our 20s. However, my mom barely has any redness and is just now starting to get vessels and she is in her 60s. She has another medical condition that prevented her from being outside most of her life and therefore her skin has not had much exposure to the sun at all. So I am almost positive that the sun was a factor in our family history of rosacea.

    I also have to believe there are those of us (not all of us) who have a genetic predisposition to the disease and it takes something (stress, sun damage, etc.) for it to surface. The whole complexity of the onset is baffling and that’s what makes it harder to try to find the cause.

  5. Peter says:

    Hi pitanjara

    I’m from Adelaide and I’m interested in meeting anyone from Adelaide. Are you interested or the two other people you mention?


  6. pitanjara says:

    Hi Peter,
    Sorry, I no longer live in Adealaide. pitanjara

  7. Peter says:

    Hi Pitanjara

    Do you still have contact with any one in Adelaide with Rosacea?



  8. pitanjara says:

    Hi! Peter,

    It is awhile since I left Adelaide. No, sorry, I don,t have any contacts there. Perhaps if an interested party living there reads this, that they contact you.


  9. linda says:

    Hi Peter,

    I live in Adelaide. I’m not interested in meeting up….yet. But am ceratinly happy to swap info re drs, suppliers etc.
    You can contanct me at



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