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Is Rosacea an Autoimmune Disease? The Autoimmunity Link Explained

What's the connection between autoimmunity and rosacea?

Read on

There is still so much we are uncovering about the chronic skin condition rosacea. Researchers are still learning about triggers, genetic causes, and treatments. However, we do know that rosacea is far more than just skin deep. Simply having rosacea could mean you are more two times more likely to have an autoimmune condition than someone without rosacea. This is pretty startling and certainly raises some questions. 

What does rosacea have to do with the immune system anyway? What’s the link between autoimmunity and rosacea?

In this article, we’ll explore this and consult the latest research on associated autoimmune illnesses and rosacea. 

Rosacea and the innate immune system  

Until recently, the pathophysiology of this condition was still widely misunderstood. Recent studies have shown a link between rosacea triggers the innate immune cell response and subsequent inflammation and flushing redness.   

Any healthy immune system will react to foreign invaders, but in those with rosacea, the innate immune system tends to overcompensate when it comes to certain triggers. (Stimulus triggers in rosacea are things like heat, extreme weather, UV rays, certain foods, and drinks.)

Because of this abnormal innate immune reaction, those with rosacea tend to have more cathelicidin in their skin, which is an immune defense peptide that’s released to fight a perceived threat. Studies have shown an increased level of cathelicidin may promote inflammation and vascular flushing responses in rosacea. 

This is how this whole song and dance works: 

  • (Think of the highly expressed TLR2 as a very sensitive alarm system that might be triggered by the wind.) 
  • That TLR2 is intimately linked with the innate immune response of the skin. This receptor is programmed to respond to microbes, tissue damage, heat, UV rays, or damage to the extracellular matrix of the skin. 
  • So, the highly expressed TLR2, which mediates the innate immune system response, can cause abnormal immune responses that result in chronic inflammation and redness characterized by rosacea.  

What autoimmune diseases are associated with rosacea?

In a 2016 study, researchers found those with rosacea have significantly increased risks for type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis -- all of which are autoimmune diseases. 

In the same Danish study, researchers found women with rosacea were twice as likely to have these autoimmune diseases than women without rosacea.

A 2018 study found a link between rosacea and thyroid autoimmunity. Researchers found that rosacea might be associated with high levels of thyroid autoantibodies and prolactin. 

In a genome-wide study seeking to better understand the genetic cause of rosacea, researchers found that the genetic markers associated with rosacea were in the same region of the genome associated with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. 

While seemingly different conditions, there are some similarities between type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and rosacea. Those with type 1 diabetes also deal with blood vessel abnormalities and those with celiac disease may have inflammation of the skin including overlapping rosacea symptoms.

So, is rosacea an autoimmune disease?

While autoimmunity concurrency has been associated with rosacea, rosacea is not considered an autoimmune disease. Rosacea is an inflammatory disorder

Autoimmunity involves an immune response that contains autoantigenic material (antibodies that attack your own cells). 

Although linked to the innate immune response, and associated with concurrent autoimmune diseases, rosacea itself does not have an autoimmune aspect. 

Strut Health treats rosacea online

While there is no cure for rosacea, there are treatments that have been shown to improve symptoms. Here at Strut Health, we create custom rosacea formulas using powerful prescription ingredients to help target your specific symptoms.  

If you want your own custom rosacea compound cream, simply complete a questionnaire-based online doctor's consultation to see if our treatments are right for you. 

If our doctors find this is a good fit for you, we’ll ship your prescription to your doorstep with our fast and free shipping.

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