Twin Study Shows Rosacea Has 50:50 Genetic and Environmental Influences

Nely Aldrich, MD Department of Dermatology University Hospitals Case Medical Interview with:
Nely Aldrich, MD
Department of Dermatology
University Hospitals Case Medical Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Aldrich:   To our knowledge, no formal studies have been performed on the genetic vs. environmental factors that lead to the development of rosacea. Our department has the unique opportunity to attend the Twins Days festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. This is a yearly festival where thousands of twin pairs come from all over the world. This was the perfect setting to ask our research question. Our main finding was that there is an approximately 50% contribution of genetics to rosacea and the other 50% can be attributed to environmental factors. Sun exposure, smoking, alcohol use, skin cancer history, and heart disease were also found to be correlated with a higher rosacea severity.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Aldrich:   Rosacea is an exceedingly common condition. It is good for patients to have answers to the common question we get asked: “Why did I get this?”. We can tell them it’s partly genetic. Physicians can also counsel their patients about lifestyle modifications they can do to help their rosacea. Quitting smoking, limiting excessive alcohol intake, and limiting sun exposure are factors patients can control.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Aldrich:   We hope that this study will serve as a launching point for other studies that want to look at the genetic basis of rosacea. We already have further rosacea research underway – we go to Twins Days every year


Aldrich N, Gerstenblith M, Fu P, et al. Genetic vs Environmental Factors That Correlate With Rosacea: A Cohort-Based Survey of Twins. JAMA Dermatol. Published online August 26, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2230.

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Last Updated on August 27, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD