Rosacea Review - Newsletter of the National Rosacea SocietyRosacea Review - Newsletter of the National Rosacea Society

Masks Matter in Fight Against Disorder Now Affecting 16 Million Americans

While protective face masks may both hide and exacerbate the signs and symptoms of rosacea, the 16 million Americans who suffer from this disorder now have access to more treatment options and sophisticated medical care than ever before. The National Rosacea Society (NRS) has designated April as Rosacea Awareness Month to educate the public on this common and potentially serious facial condition, and to urge those who suspect they may have it to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and the most up-to-date therapy.

“The heat and abrasion from prolonged use of face masks often leads to irritation of facial skin and a worsening of rosacea signs and symptoms, calling for more intense medical treatment and special care,” said Dr. Linda Stein Gold, director of dermatology clinical research at the Henry Ford Health System. “Because of rosacea’s conspicuous impact on facial appearance, these aftereffects may become increasingly apparent as mask mandates are eased when COVID-19 is brought under control.”

She noted that, even during rosacea flare-ups, it is important to follow public health directives and wear masks when and where they are required.

“Rosacea is now understood as a single disease with a wide variety of potential signs and symptoms, and fortunately there is a growing range of medical therapies that can be tailored for each individual case to achieve substantially improved outcomes,” Dr. Stein Gold said.1 “When the signs and symptoms of rosacea are virtually eliminated, the positive effect on patients’ lives is often dramatic.”

In an NRS survey of more than 800 rosacea patients, 83% of those who had achieved clear or almost clear skin said their psychological well-being had improved. Seventy-three percent said it had also improved their social lives, and 63% reported improvement in their occupational well-being.

“Through habit or lack of knowledge, however, many patients may unknowingly continue with therapy that is not as effective as it could be,” Dr. Stein Gold said. “In these cases, there may be newer medications that produce more successful results as well as therapy combinations that offer excellent synergistic effects.”

A recent NRS survey found that rosacea sufferers aged 60 and over were especially more likely to use older treatments. In the survey of 1,714 rosacea patients, 54% of those 60 and over reported they still use the first prescription therapy ever developed and approved for rosacea, compared to 41% of those under 60. Furthermore, 42% of those 60 and over had never changed their treatment regimen, compared to only 19% of those under 60.

Dr. Stein Gold noted that developing an individualized treatment plan with one or more targeted therapies tailored to a patient’s specific signs and symptoms will achieve the best overall outcome, both objectively in terms of clear skin and subjectively in terms of quality of life. “As dermatologists, we want patients to be healthy and happy in their skin,” she said. “If a therapy is not doing its job, it may be time to try a different approach.”

She noted that there are now new medical therapies specifically for persistent facial redness, the most common diagnostic sign of rosacea, that are not only effective but may even modify the long-term course of disease. Of equal importance, new advances in topical and oral therapy for bumps and pimples have been introduced to help achieve clear skin. 


1. Thiboutot D, Anderson R, Cook-Bolden F, et al. Standard management options for rosacea: the 2019 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. J Am Acad Dermatol 2020;82(6):1501–1510. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2020.01.077