From the Journals

New rosacea clinical management guidelines focus on symptomatology



Patients with rosacea should receive treatments based on their phenotype and specific symptoms, instead of being assigned into artificially distinct subtype categories, as was previously practiced, according to an update on options for managing rosacea published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The update, by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee, is based on a review of the evidence, and is a follow-up to the classification system for rosacea that was updated in 2017, which recommended classification of rosacea based on phenotype (Am Acad Dermatol. 2018;78:148-155).

The key take-away is “that patients shouldn’t be classified as having a certain subtype of rosacea” since “many patients have features that overlap more than one subtype,” lead author of the management update, Diane Thiboutot, MD, professor of dermatology and associate dean of clinical and translational research education at Penn State University, Hershey, said in an interview.

“There is an opportunity for physicians to recognize that the symptom complex of rosacea differs widely and treatments should be selected to address the symptoms experienced by the patient, particularly with regard to ocular rosacea,” she said.

Until there were updated guidelines on rosacea classification, published in 2018, relying primarily on diagnostic subtypes “tended to limit consideration of the full range of potential signs and symptoms as well as the frequent simultaneous occurrence of more than one subtype or the potential progression from one subtype to another,” Dr. Thiboutot and coauthors wrote in the management update (J Am Acad Dermatol 2020;82:1501-10).

“The more we learn, the more complex rosacea becomes,” she said in the interview. “The clinical manifestations of rosacea are so varied, ranging from skin erythema, eye findings, papules and pustules to rhinophyma, [that] it calls into question, if all of these are actually one disease (rosacea) or if they represent localized reaction patterns to a multitude of stimuli that vary among individuals.”

Etiology and impact

Dr. Thiboutot and colleagues summarized the management options and recommendations from a committee of 27 experts who assessed the data on rosacea therapies using the updated standard classification system. They also highlighted the suspected systemic nature of rosacea etiology and its psychosocial impact on those with the condition.

“Recent studies have found an association between rosacea and increased risk of a growing number of systemic disorders, including cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurologic, and autoimmune diseases as well as certain types of cancer,” the authors wrote. “These findings further elevate the clinical significance of rosacea as growing evidence of its potential link with systemic inflammation is increasingly understood.”

Dr. Thiboutot said that research has implicated both the innate and adaptive immune systems and the neuromuscular system in rosacea’s underpinnings.

“Many of the triggers associated with clinical exacerbation of rosacea are known to activate the immune system and/or the neurovasculature, such as demodex, sunlight, alcohol, and changes in temperature,” she said, adding that therapies targeting the neurovascular effects of rosacea are particularly needed.

More than 50% of patients with rosacea have ocular manifestations, with symptoms such as “dryness, burning and stinging, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and foreign body sensation,” the authors reported.


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