People with rosacea may have a higher than normal risk for dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease, according to research published in the Annals of Neurology.
The chronic inflammatory skin condition rosacea is characterized by high levels of some proteins. These proteins are also linked with some neurodegenerative disorders.
Alzheimer's disease and some other types of dementia are among those disorders. Proteins include matrix metalloproteinases and antimicrobial peptides.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen studied 5,591,718 Danes 18 years of age and older, from 1997 to 2012. Of these people, 82,439 Danes had rosacea.
It was determined that people with rosacea had a 7 percent higher risk for dementia, and a 25 percent higher risk for Alzheimer's disease than those without rosacea.
Women with rosacea had even higher risk, with 28 percent higher risk for Alzheimer's disease while men with rosacea were at 16 percent increased risk.
More than 99,000 of those studied later developed Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers reported that highest risk for developing dementia exists for older patients and for those whose rosacea has been diagnosed by a hospital dermatologist.
Rosacea makes the face red, sometimes with small red bumps filled with pus. Fair-skinned middle-aged women are the group that is most often affected, though anyone can have rosacea.
Without treatment, the Mayo Clinic says that rosacea will often continue to get worse. Rosacea symptoms can increase over periods of weeks or months, then decrease again, for no discernible reason. Some people who have rosacea may think they have acne, or other skin issues.
Rosacea makes the center of the face red, and often small blood vessels in the nose and cheeks may become visible as well. In rare cases, the skin on the nose can become thickened, making the nose round and swollen.
The affected skin may feel tender and hot. Rosacea can also affect the eyes, making them dry, swollen and irritated, and causing the eyelids to become reddened.
About Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia
According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease makes up 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Dementia involves symptoms like loss of memory especially in the short-term, difficulties with language and communication, as well as impaired reasoning and judgment. The ability to focus attention can decrease, and vision can be affected.
Dementia can be progressive, which means it gradually worsens.
Be aware that research of the apparent link between rosacea and dementia is in the early stages. If you have rosacea, do not assume that this means you will end up with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia in your later years. Still, the link is something researchers want to investigate further.
Reviewed June 1, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Rosacea linked to a slightly increased risk of dementia. Eurekalert.org. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
Alzheimer's risk higher in people with rosacea. MedicalNewsToday.com. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
Rosacea. Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
What Is Dementia? Alz.org. Retrieved May 31, 2016.