Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes chronic red flushing, primarily on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead. These symptoms can often be debilitating and result in a decreased quality of life for many patients. Unfortunately, the exact cause of this condition is not well understood. Researchers have found that genetics, environmental triggers, and even certain microscopic organisms can all contribute to rosacea. Below we will discuss the different theories behind the cause of rosacea.

Genetics

One of the theories behind the cause of rosacea is that certain genes that you’ve inherited from your parents may play a role in the development of this condition. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in collaboration with the genetics company 23andMe, have identified a genetic basis for rosacea. When comparing the genomes of rosacea patients and controls, the researchers looked for differences in DNA building blocks called nucleotides. Interestingly, only two areas of the genome were associated with having rosacea. Furthermore, these two areas were located near genes known for their role in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, sarcoidosis and inflammatory bowel disease.

DNA

Environmental triggers

Another theory behind the cause of rosacea is triggers in the environment. Common environmental triggers include exposure to ultraviolet radiation, changes in temperature, exposure to skin irritants, alcoholic beverages, and spicy food. Researchers suggest that these environmental triggers demonstrate that stimulation of the sensory nervous system may be involved with rosacea. It has been hypothesized that the skin of the face is one place on the body where the sympathetic, parasympathetic and sensory nervous systems all play a role. For example, researchers have found that exposure to heat stimulates greater nerve, blood flow, and sweating responses in individuals with rosacea, a response that is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system.

Microscopic organisms

One of the theories behind the cause of rosacea involves microscopic Demodex mites. While Demodex mites are a natural part of the human microbiome (the community of microorganisms that live within and on the body), they frequently occur in greater numbers in those with rosacea. The theory is that an overabundance of Demodex may trigger an immune response in people with rosacea. Also, it’s possible that the inflammation may be caused by certain bacteria associated with the mites known as Bacillus oleronius. In a study funded by the National Rosacea Society (NRS), researchers found that B. oleronius stimulated an inflammatory response in 79 percent of study patients with subtype 2 papulopustular rosacea.

demodex

While these are certainly not all of the theories behind the cause of rosacea, they are some of the most supported theories that are currently being researched. Until a cause for rosacea is identified, we invite you to check out our post with tips to better manage your rosacea symptoms. Also, Dr. Krant offers cosmetic services that can improve the appearance of your rosacea. Schedule a consultation today to see which treatment option would be best for you.