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Which Skin Types Are More Susceptible to Rosacea?

Dr. Nancy Shannon

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nancy Shannon, MD, PhD on August 31, 2021

Your skin type can determine a lot about your ideal skincare routine, how your skin ages, and even your susceptibility to certain conditions like rosacea. While rosacea can affect people with just about any type of skin, some are more at risk than others. Here’s what you need to know about the connections between rosacea and skin type:

Rosacea and Skin Type

There are 5 major skin types — balanced, dry, oily, combination, and sensitive — and each is theoretically susceptible to rosacea. Sensitive skin is the type most at risk of developing rosacea, as flare-ups of the condition can be caused by skin irritation. The more sensitive your skin is, the more prone to irritation you are, the more likely rosacea flare-ups become. 

It is estimated that around half of all people with rosacea have dry skin, but oily-skinned people get rosacea too. Having oily skin is an especially strong reason to get rosacea treatment as quickly as possible due to the interactions between rosacea and the sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands are the oil-producing bodies that reside in the skin’s pores; people with oily skin have naturally over-productive sebaceous glands which can lead to a pooling up of oil on parts of the face. Rosacea, when particularly severe and left untreated, can agitate these sebaceous glands over time, causing them to swell and cause the skin around them to thicken as a result (which can lead to the phymatous form of rosacea). This is one of the most serious symptoms of rosacea, so those with oily skin should be particularly vigilant when it comes to avoiding flare-ups and treating those that do occur. 

Proper moisturization is a key part of any rosacea-focused skincare regimen. It may sound surprising, but much of the same principles apply to people with oily skin as well — just because skin is oily doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s well-hydrated. The key here is to opt for moisturizers that don’t also increase the greasiness of the skin, so stay away from oil-based moisturizers whenever possible. Moreover, it’s important to keep your skin in mind when searching for rosacea treatments, as some have skin-drying ingredients that you’ll want to avoid such as alcohols, fragrances, or glycolic acid.

Rosacea and Ethnicity

Rosacea is most commonly associated with fair-skinned people, particularly those with Northern European ancestry. People with either of those two factors are more prone to become flushed, one of the key precipitating factors for rosacea. 

Even so, rosacea doesn’t only affect white people. Some studies suggest that as much as 10% of the world’s non-white population has rosacea. In those with darker skin tones, the redness may not be as immediately noticeable as it is in those with fairer skin. Instead, those with skin of color may be more likely to experience rosacea in the form of acne-like breakouts,instances of the aforementioned skin thickening, or persistent skin irritation and burning. 

While fair skinned people may be more likely to develop rosacea in the first place, the visibility of the condition in those with lighter skin also means that it’s more likely to be diagnosed quickly and accurately. Those with darker skin tones may take longer to recognize the nature of their condition, and leaving rosacea untreated for too long can result in the disease progressing and causing unwanted complications. 

If you’re having difficulty navigating the ins and outs and living with rosacea, we’re here to help. Get in contact with a member of our medical team today to learn more about which treatments can best help you to live with the condition.

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