The strange link between blotchy skin and dementia

A recent study has linked rosacea, a common skin condition, to an increased risk of developing degenerative disorders.

A team of scientists form the University of Copenhagen has uncovered a strange link between a common skin condition and Alzheimer’s disease. According to U.S. News & World Report, the facial redness has been shown to result in an increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite the apparent link in the study, researchers wanted to reiterate that the vast majority of people suffering from blotchy skin are not facing a significant risk of developing a degenerative disease.

“It is important for patients to remember that having rosacea does not guarantee that they will develop Alzheimer’s disease,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Alexander Egeberg. “In fact, while the risk in rosacea patients may be slightly increased compared to the general population, the absolute risk to any one patient is still quite low.”

Dr. Egeberg, who works in the department of dermato-allergology at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen, examined data from the Danish national health registry system collected from 1997 to 2012. The data spanned the entire Danish population, which includes roughly 5.6 million men and women. Roughly 82,000 people reportedly suffered from rosacea.

Researchers found that people that had rosacea were as much as seven percent more likely to develop dementia in any form, and faced a 25 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than the general population. The data showed that women faced a higher risk than men – women with rosacea faced a 28 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, compared to a 16 percent higher risk for men with the skin condition.

Nearly 16 million Americans suffer from rosacea, which leaves redness and acne-like marks and bumps across the center of the face. Rosacea can be treated by a number of means, but a concrete cure for the condition remains elusive. While the doctors stopped short of suggesting that the skin condition outright causes degenerative disorders, the link is certainly worth investigating further.

The study was published in the Annals of Neurology.

A press release from the University of Copenhagen describing the details of the study can be found here.

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