rosacea

My Rosacea Diagnosis

In 2018 I started my journey with Rosacea and finally discovered I had it.

I was bound to get it, my paternal grandmother had it and many times it’s hereditary. I’ve always had sensitive skin but it didn’t start to show as rosacea until about 6 years ago or so. I blamed the traveling and dry airplane air I was now exposed to frequently as a travel journalist. For me, the constant travel and plane air aggravated it, as did extreme weather changes.

rosacea appointment
April 2018 heading to my first appointment with my dermatologist (left) and January 2022 (right) heading to my most recent appointment.

I was very self-conscious and embarrassed about it. I tried everything but nothing worked. It would show through my makeup mid-day and I refused to even run errands without some makeup on to cover it. I tried every imaginable makeup brand and quick fix I could find, but nothing settled my skin. Many times, it made it worse.

 

My mom would tell me, “It’s just a little rosacea; just a bit pink, what can you do?” But I knew something had to be done. It wasn’t just ugly—it itched, it burned, it was hot, it was uncomfortable. The first doctor I went to over 10 years ago did nothing. My second attempt 6 years ago walked out of the room when I told him I had questions and couldn’t remember one right away. I NEVER went back to him again! When I asked him about which makeup I should be using, he said, “Do what feels right,” but nothing felt right. He also told me to read the National Rosacea Society website for information. Not really the guidance or healthcare I was looking for. So, a few months later when I had an appointment with my primary, I asked her for a suggestion for a dermatologist. She gave me three names and I ended up at the only one who took my insurance.

Things really happen for a reason because she turned my face around completely! She listened to all my questions, gave me a treatment plan, wrote down everything we spoke about with instructions and handed them to me at the end of my appointment. At my second appointment with her, I asked about my makeup. I wanted to know what I should be using and if any of the things in my daily rotation could cause me to flare or irritate my skin. She went through my makeup bag and regular skincare products and made suggestions, looked at all ingredients and told what to change and what to continue. Over the course of the next year or so, at every appointment she updated that document at the end of my visit with instructions and printed an update. I met with her every few months to check my progress, and 1.5 years later, my face was totally clear. It did take a lot of patience, and I did follow her instructions to a T, but now four years later, I feel confident enough to leave the house without makeup. Though it took over a year for my face to be totally clear, I did start to see visible results a few weeks in, and 3-4 months after starting my treatment, my face had significantly improved.

 

Just a few weeks ago, I went in for an appointment. I had not been to see her since before the COVID lockdown in 2020. For the first time she cheered when she lowered my mask to check my rosacea. She yelled, “congratulations” and told me I had done a great job—that it was barely noticeable. I felt she was about to jump up and down and start clapping with excitement. We achieved this together—I told her how I followed her instructions to a T and have been very adamant about sunscreen, hats, and doing everything else she advised me to do during our appointments. I was on my own since the pandemic started, I didn’t feel a need to make an appointment, and my rosacea was mostly controlled. Following the guidance she had provided me during all those appointments we had had, helped me keep my rosacea under control.

rosacea
After a day of walking around the theme parks in Orlando in the sun, this was the result of my rosacea—April 2018.

Though rosacea isn’t curable, it is very treatable, and with the right treatment and guidance you can get it under control. Do I still have days where my face gets a little red? Of course! Do I know how to treat it now? Yes, because I have the tools and information from my doctor.

 

I learned that treating it myself and trying to find over-the-counter fixes, isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes you need an actual diagnosis, and the guidance of a professional. Keep in mind that just because you notice redness, or pink cheeks, does not necessarily mean you have rosacea. The condition has very specific indicators and ranges from type one—redness and flushing, type two also presents with bumps and pustules, to type three, which causes an enlargement of the nose from excess tissue, which is also known as rhinophyma. Some patients can even develop ocular rosacea, which causes watery or bloodshot eyes, as well as irritation, burning, or stinging. It is estimated that rosacea affects over 16 million Americans and 415 million people worldwide. Mine, was type two, as I had redness, flushing, burning sensations, bumps, and pustules.

Many things can cause rosacea to flare, and it’s different for every person. Things that can cause a flare are extreme heat or cold (yup that’s one of mine), wine (it does for me at times), sun exposure (also does to me), emotional stress (yup, got that one too), wind (check), heavy exercise (check again), hot baths (yup), alcohol consumption (depends which ones), spicy foods, humidity, indoor heat, heated beverages, certain medications, some fruits or vegetables, dairy products, marinated meats,  and even some skincare or makeup products.

rosacea
After following my treatment for a few months, I started to see results in August 2018.

If you’re struggling with any health concerns or dermatological issues, remember many can be treated. They just take time, patience, and consistency! And, you need to find the right doctor for YOU! Take the time to find a doctor you are comfortable with and leave those you feel are dismissive. She was my third dermatologist, and the first that I felt like cared about my concern. She didn’t rush me out the door, answered my most ridiculous questions, and took her time as a health care provider. I wasn’t just another person in a time slot to bill. 

 

I hope this story encourages you to find the right healthcare provider for YOU. If you feel you’re not being listened to, are not being given the proper amount of time for a visit you scheduled and are paying for, or if you’re just not happy, you have the power to change your outcome. Your health is in YOUR control! Find one who works with you on your journey! And, this isn’t just for a dermatologist, but any healthcare provider.

 

Do I still have flares? Yes of course! Especially when I travel, workout, have wine, or am in extreme heat or cold. But now, I have the tools and the knowledge to treat it. Rosacea isn’t curable but it’s manageable! I’ll be sharing more soon on how I manage my rosacea, what I use, and what my dermatologist suggested as lifestyle changes.

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