With the onset of summer, dermatologists said that hot weather can exacerbate the symptoms brought on by the common skin disease rosacea.
People often misdiagnose rosacea, causing it to go untreated and its symptoms to worsen, dermatologist and author Chiu Pin-chi (邱品齊) said.
The number of rosacea patients increases when the weather gets hot, he said, adding that the condition might be related to a large increase in facial skin-borne parasites.
Between 1 percent and 5 percent of the population has rosacea, which is more common among women aged 30 to 60, he said.
Women are three times more likely than men to contract the disease, he said.
The common symptoms of rosacea are redness, pimples, swelling, and small and superficial dilated blood vessels, with many people mistaking it for acne, he said.
Research has established a link between the presence of Demodex — a genus of tiny mites that live in or near the hair follicles of mammals — and the onset of rosacea, said Lin Cheng-hsien (林政賢), director of a Kaohsiung-based skin clinic that bears his name.
Although Demodex are also present on the skin of healthy people, in rosacea patients the mites increase to abnormally large numbers, causing chronic inflammation, he said.
There are normally seven or eight mites on every square centimeter of a person’s face, but on the face of someone with rosacea, they number about 100, he said.
Clinical studies have found that killing the mites reduces inflammation, which is done by applying medicated cream, he said.
He cited as an example a 30-year-old woman, surnamed Tsai (蔡), whom he treated for the disease.
Tsai has had the condition for eight years and had spent a lot of money on skin-care products to treat the rashes and pimples on her face that the condition caused, he said.
The severe redness and swelling in her face also made her very self-conscious, he said.
Tsai’s condition improved after using oral and topical medications for two months, he added.
The severity of Tsai’s rosacea is now about 20 percent of what it was before she began treatment, he said.
Aside from heat, other factors that might worsen the symptoms of rosacea include exercise, sunlight, cold, spicy food, alcohol, menopause and stress, Chiu said.
He advised those with the condition to always use sunscreen and avoid eating greasy foods.
They should also avoid hot springs and strenuous exercise, he said.
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