Q&A: Mask wearing affects patients with rosacea
More than 16 million Americans are affected by rosacea, and the National Rosacea Society has deemed April National Rosacea Awareness Month to raise awareness of the condition and its treatments.
Masks, which have been touted to slow the spread of COVID-19 over the past year, have also had an effect on those with rosacea, exacerbating some signs and symptoms, while also helping to hide their condition.
Healio spoke with Linda Stein Gold, MD, director of dermatology clinical research at the Henry Ford Health System, about rosacea and masks and how both patients and clinicians can work with them.
Healio: How is rosacea affected by mask wearing?
Stein Gold: Many rosacea patients find that their condition during the pandemic is more severe than in the past. A recent study has found that rosacea patients have increased papules and pustules as well as overall redness with mask wearing.
Healio: How does rosacea affect an individual’s quality of life and psychological well-being?
Stein Gold: Rosacea has a significant impact on overall quality of like. These patients have an increased risk for anxiety and depression. We also know that society judges people with rosacea more negatively than those with clear complexions.
Healio: As some states begin to reopen and forgo mask mandates, how might that affect patients with rosacea? Do the masks help them in any way?
Stein Gold: The pandemic has been associated with increased stress levels, impaired sleep and an increase in alcohol consumption, all factors that can wreak havoc on rosacea sufferers. As society starts to normalize, some of these issues should improve. One positive of mask wearing is protection from the sun in covered areas. Make sure that masks are clean, and if you are going to be physically active, have spare clean masks with you.
Healio: What treatments should patients be aware of if masks are causing new signs and symptoms?
Stein Gold: Keep to your skin care routine. The basics are still important: gentle cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen. Make sure to continue your medications, and if skin is flaring, there are great treatment options available, including topical minocycline, ivermectin and low-dose oral doxycycline.
Healio: What should clinicians keep in mind in treating patients with rosacea who will have to continue wearing masks for the foreseeable future?
Stein Gold: Clinicians may need to be more aggressive with treatment and make sure to remind patients to continue with maintenance therapy to prevent flareups.