Rosacea: An Introduction

Psychological Problems Presenting Alongside Rosacea

In general, all illness, to a greater of lesser extent, represents a disruption of the equilibrium between the stresses of daily living on the one hand, and the psychological defense mechanisms on the other.

In other words, all illness can be viewed in some measure as having a psychological component.

To date, studies investigating the possibility of a correlation between rosacea, personality and emotion have been inconclusive.

Rosacea and Psychosocial Distress

In 1947, Moloney noted that acne patients experienced increased self-consciousness and in 1949 Halliday reported increased obsessional behaviour and feelings of inadequacy, leading to difficulty in social situations.

Whittkower - Acne Personality Study

In 1951, Whittkower published a detailed study of 64 cases, describing four classes of personality among acne sufferers. Many of the traits he describes are generally recognized as being part of a neurotic personality profile:

  • perfectionism;
  • tension;
  • anxiety in social contact;
  • sensitivity to criticism;
  • eagerness to be liked;
  • a tendency for self-reproach.

Cohen and Lowenfield's Mosaic Test

In 1945, Cohen used Lowenfield's Mosaic Test (a psychological test) but was unable to demonstrate any differences between the personalities of soldiers with acne and controls (soldiers without acne).

Narcisco - Psychological Aspects of Dermatitis

In 1952, Narcisco compared college students with and without acne using the Minnesota multiphasic personality inventory. He found significant differences on four of the nine scales:

  • hysteria;
  • psychasthenia;
  • hypochondriasis;
  • schizophrenia.

He concluded that those with acne were:

  • more concerned about bodily function;
  • less mature;
  • more troubled by phobic or compulsive behaviour;
  • more liable to mild depression and excess worry.

Geist - Five Categories of Skin Disorder

In 1957, Geist used the same MMPI test, Rorschach (inkblot test) and the "draw a person test" to compare five categories of skin disorder. Geist described acne sufferers as:

  • psychoneurotic;
  • as having sexual difficulties;
  • exhibiting poor control, impulsiveness and infantile behaviour.

In 1959, Pakesch and Kresback used the Rorschach and Szondi tests and found:

  • evidence of neurotic depression in acne sufferers, which they regarded as a reaction to the acne rather than a cause.

Lucas - Personality of Students with Acne (1961)

This study is significant for having commented on the coexistence of neurosis and acne. Read more on his findings regarding acne and personality.

Note: although rosacea has often been misdiagnozed as acne, acne and rosacea are seperate entities requiring different treatment.

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