Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness, visible blood vessels, bumps and pimples on the face and affects 14 million people in the U.S alone. It often leads to emotional problems and low self-esteem because it is appearance-related with all the signs affecting the face. Current treatments include light therapy to decrease redness, avoiding triggers such as spicy foods and heat, and taking antibiotics that are not effective for every patient.

Ten years ago, scientists discovered cathelicidin proteins that were helpful against skin infections. They were looking for an association between the protein and skin conditions such as eczema and found that this protein could cause redness. They went further on and took skin biopsies from 11 people with rosacea and 10 without. The biopsies showed that all the patients that suffered from rosacea had too much cathelicidin as well as abundance of a molecule that processes cathelicidin from an inactive to an active form. Whether the protein will act as a defense against infection or promote inflammation depends on the way cathelicidin is processed. Too much of an abnormal protein will trigger the blotchy skin disease.

The researchers are hoping that this finding will aid in designing an effective treatment for the disease.