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Queens Chronicle

New “Red Menace” Threatens Face Of Aging Baby Boomers

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2002 12:00 am

There’s nothing like a red face to get people to notice you—for all the wrong reasons. They may assume the flushing on your cheeks or nose is due to shyness, too much alcohol or poor hygiene. Or they might think it’s the irresponsible result of failing to wear sunscreen.

For an estimated 14 million Americans, however, the cause of this embarrassing facial appearance is rosacea, a little known and potentially serious disorder that is becoming increasingly common as the populous baby boom generation enters the most susceptible ages—from 30 to 60.

“Persistent redness of the facial skin is usually the first sign of rosacea,” said Dr. Jerome Z. Litt, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University. “Many people assume the redness is due to sun or hard living, rather than a health condition, and fail to seek medical help before this chronic disorder gets worse and seriously intrudes in their daily lives.”

Once rosacea begins, the facial redness tends to become progressively more severe, and visible blood vessels may appear. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop, and the eyes may feel gritty and appear bloodshot—a condition, known as ocular rosacea, that can result in vision loss. In advanced cases, especially in men, the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue.

The red bulbous nose of comedian W. C. Fields was due to advanced rosacea and well-known modern rosacea sufferers include former President Bill Clinton, as reported in The New York Times, and Princess Diana, whose “blush” was thought to be the early stages of rosacea, according to published reports.

While the cause of rosacea remains a mystery, it is more frequently diagnosed in women but tends to be more severe in men. In addition, a National Rosacea Society survey of rosacea patients found that nearly 40 percent had a relative who also suffered from similar symptoms. And while the disorder can be seen in all ethnic groups, it was particularly prevalent among people of Irish, English, Scottish, Scandinavian and northern or eastern European ancestry.

Adding to the embarrassment created by the alarming, acne-like effects of rosacea is a common myth that rosacea sufferers, who often have a red face and nose, are alcoholics. In fact, while alcohol may aggravate rosacea, the symptoms can be just as severe in a teetotaler. Another common misconception is that rosacea is caused by poor hygiene, while in reality the disorder is unrelated to personal cleanliness.

Further complicating the effects of this widespread condition, an astonishing array of lifestyle and environmental factors can trigger flare-ups in various individuals. Some of the more common rosacea tripwires include sun exposure, emotional stress, hot or cold weather, wind, alcohol, spicy foods, strenuous exercise, hot baths, heated beverages and certain skin-care products.

“The single most important action people who suspect they may have rosacea can take is to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment,” Dr. Litt said. “Although rosacea cannot be cured, effective medical therapy and avoidance of trigger factors can halt its progression and minimize or reverse its effects.”

Dermatologists usually prescribe fast acting oral and topical antibiotics to bring symptoms under immediate control, and then continue long-term therapy with the topical medication alone to maintain remission. When appropriate, lasers may be used to remove visible blood vessels, or to recontour an enlarged nose.

For information and educational materials on rosacea, write the National Rosacea Society, 800 S. Northwest Highway, Suite 200, Barrington, Illinois 60010, or call its toll-free number at 1-888-NO-BLUSH.

Information and materials are also available on the society’s Web site at www.rosacea.org, or via e-mail at rosaceas@aol.com.

(Editor’s note: copy courtesy of ARA Content.)

Anxiety Screening Held At Flushing Hosp.

Anxiety and depression are the most common form of mental illness affecting more than 35 million Americans each year. However, effective treatment is available if a diagnosis can be made.

National Anxiety Disorder Screening Day is Wednesday, May 1st and the Department of Mental Health and Psychiatry at Flushing Hospital Medical Center is offering help to those suffering from anxiety and depression.

From noon until 4 p.m., qualified mental health professionals will be available in the hospital lobby offering free, one-to-one, confidential screenings and information on how to get help.

If you, or someone you know suffers with anxiety or depression, attend this special event. For more information, contact Flushing Hospital’s Mental Health Department at 670-5476.

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