In a previous study, the chronic skin condition rosacea was linked to an increased risk for Parkinson's disease. In a new study, researchers associated the condition with a slightly heightened risk of having dementia.

A research spearheaded by Dr. Alexander Egeberg from the University of Copenhagen studied the correlation between rosacea and dementia among Danish citizens. The researchers found that there is an increased risk of having dementia among older patients with rosacea and those diagnosed with the skin condition by hospital dermatologists.

Between 1997 to 2012, there were 5,591,718 Danish citizens aged 18 and above, 82,439 of which were diagnosed with rosacea. The researchers followed them until Dec. 31, 2012, or until they had to leave the country, were diagnosed with dementia or died from any cause, whichever came first. The study revealed that 99,040 citizens developed dementia, 29,193 of which were diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Those patients with rosacea were found to be at 7 percent more likely to develop dementia and 25 percent more at risk to develop Alzheimer's disease.

The study also found that women with rosacea were 28 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease while men had a 16 percent risk. Rosacea patients aged 60 and above had a 20 percent risk of having Alzheimer's disease.

Those who had been diagnosed with rosacea by a hospital dermatologist had 42 percent increased risk of dementia and 92 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

According to Egeberg, the prominent neurological symptoms like migraines and pain in the skin may be the link to rosacea and neurological diseases.

"There are certain mechanistic overlaps between rosacea and Alzheimer's disease that may explain the observed association, albeit the pathogenic links between these conditions are still unclear," said Egeberg, noting that having rosacea doesn't necessarily mean that the person will also develop dementia.

Egeberg added that the study, published on April 28 in the journal Annals of Neurology, may help the scientific community gain a better understanding of the correlation between skin and neurodegenerative disorders.

All About Rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin disease wherein one experiences severe redness and blushing of the skin, usually on the face. The condition can cause more than redness, however, depending on the subtype.

One could have erythematotelangiectatic rosacea wherein the redness is associated with visible veins, or papulopustular rosacea, which includes swelling and skin breakouts like acne. There is also phymatous rosacea, which is characterized by thick skin with a bumpy texture. The last subtype is ocular rosacea, where patients suffer from redness and irritation in the eyes and swollen eyelids.

Most of the people who have rosacea are in the 30 to 50 age range. It may be caused by genetics, which means that those who have it are likely to have someone in the family with severe acne or rosacea. Those with Scandinavian and Celtic ancestry are also more likely to develop the disease.

Rosacea may also be caused by a weak immune system, stomach infections, mites living on the skin and a skin protein called cathelicidin, which normally protects from infection but may cause swelling in some cases.

In treating rosacea, one must consult a dermatologist as this skin disease needs a specific treatment targeting different symptoms. Some of the methods used to cure rosacea are laser light treatment, electrocautery and antibiotics.

Photo: Brett Snodgrass | Flickr

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