Rosacea – Is it Really "The Curse of the Celts?"

Countries affected by Rosacea

It is widely reported that Rosacea tends to affect people of north-western European descent and is called the curse of the Celts by some in Britain and Ireland. However it is considered significant in a number of other countries including Canada, the USA and Sweden. In Canada it affects around 1.5 million people and March is Rosacea awareness month. This is also the month during which St Patrick’s day celebrations occur and this could indicate a connection between Irish heritage and the skin condition. Alcohol is a known trigger for people who are susceptible to rosacea, causing a flushed face or reddened cheeks. The Rosacea Awareness Program (RAP), winner of various Canadian Dermatology Awards says ‘St. Patrick Celebration may bring on the Curse of the Celts’. Studies confirm a genetic predisposition to rosacea. In the USA, rosacea is also relatively common and affects over 14 million people. Again it is significant enough for there to be a Rosacea awareness month, which is in April. In a 1989 study of 800 office workers in Sweden, the prevalence of rosacea was 10%. In Ireland, rosacea is said to be one of the most common skin complaints and the expression ‘Irish Bosco Cheeks’ is not uncommon. Rosy red cheeks are caused by mild rosacea; bosco was an Irish puppet with very red cheeks.

Analysing the fragmented statistics.

If it is said to affect over 14 million people in the USA, this can be changed into a ‘percentage of the population’ and is approximately 5% of the population. If it affects over 1.5 million people in Canada, this can also be turned into a percentage figure and is approximately 5% of the population. It is reported in a study that the prevalence in Sweden is 10% It is reported that in the UK, 1 in 10 people are affected, which is 10% A study in Ireland showed 14.4% of 1,000 subjects examined had rosacea. Putting these statistics into a table:


Ireland 14.4%
UK 10%
Sweden 10%
USA 5%
Canada 5%

The incidence in Ireland is 44% higher than the next country in the table and almost three times higher than in countries like the USA and Canada

Evidence of a genetic predisposition.

In the Canadian rosacea study ‘all respondents gave their ancestral communities of origin as south-western England or south-eastern Ireland’. South-western England has close links with south-eastern Ireland

Does it really affect more women then men?

In a US study, the prevalence rate of rosacea in ‘Caucasian women’ was 16 percent, which is considerably higher than the incidence among men, as only 5% of the population have rosacea. In the Swedish study, the rate was 14% in women and 6% in men. Conclusion: The incidence of rosacea in Ireland is significantly higher than the other countries included in this study, it is also established that there is a genetic predisposition. Based on these assumptions, it would seem that the term ‘curse of the Celts’ can be justified.

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