A skin condition with no cure.
Being 13 is a horrendous time. Going through puberty is no fun. Our bodies are changing, emotions are flaring and all this confusion has to be dealt with alongside school. Having clear skin and going through puberty almost seems impossible, it certainly did for me. At 13 I was diagnosed with rosacea.
There was no warning. One day I had clear skin and then the next I was flushed with an aggressive red all over my face. At first, I thought I had really severe acne, but my symptoms didn’t match with what I read online. It wasn’t until I went to the GP, I even knew what rosacea was.
Rosacea is a skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessel in your face. It can also produce small, red pus-filled bumps. It’s commonly mistaken for blushing; on a number of occasions people have attempted to compliment me by saying I don’t need to use blusher. This isn’t funny or sweet, instead comments like this make me incredibly self-conscious.
The National Rosacea Society (NRS) has designated April as Rosacea Awareness Month in order to educate the public on the impact of the chronic and widespread facial disorder that is estimated to affect more than 16 million Americans, which is more common in women and people with lighter skin.
The lack of education on rosacea means that for many people it goes overlooked. This is detrimental as Dr John Wolf, chairman of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine said: “Unfortunately, without medical treatment the effects of rosacea often persist and become increasingly severe.”
The aim of Rosacea Awareness Month is to spread public education on the disease so that people who may have rosacea seek medical help before it spirals out of control. Additionally, to encourage greater public acceptance and understanding.
Unfortunately, the causes of rosacea are still unknown. The NHS have identified potential triggers which can make symptoms worse including: alcohol, cheese, spicy foods, caffeine.
“Unfortunately, without medical treatment the effects of rosacea often persist and become increasingly severe.”Dr John Wolf
Over the years I’ve been able to identify what some of my triggers are such as dairy products and meat. In an attempt to control my symptoms from worsening I’ve recently made the decision to become vegetarian.
However, some triggers aren’t as easy to control. Many people wait longingly for Summer to return, to be able to lounge in the sun with friends – but I dread it. The hot weather is my worst trigger as it makes my entire face flame red. The recommendation is to avoid the heat, sunlight or humid conditions if possible but it’s not easy. I want to be able to enjoy cute picnic dates or go to the beach like everyone else my age.
My friends have always wondered why I’m less willing to go out in the Summer as I’m often cancelling plans. It all comes back to rosacea; it’s destroyed my self-esteem to the point it’s hindering my social life. I’d rather stay indoors instead of risking people seeing the harsh persistent red that covers my face.
Currently, rosacea cannot be cured, but there are various forms of treatment provided to help control the symptoms. Which include – prescriptions for creams and gels, taking antibiotics or laser treatment.
Since my diagnosis, my family have overloaded me with different products all promising that this would clear my skin for good. When it inevitably didn’t my dad would blame me and tell me I wasn’t using it correctly. My skin condition has been the topic of a number of arguments. I desperately want my family to understand that the products they give me aren’t a cure.
Even people I wasn’t close with suddenly started acting like dermatologists: ‘have you tried washing your face’. Gee thanks Susan I’ll be sure to give that a go I never considered that!
After years of trialling different creams and gels, I’ve found the best product for me has been the combined pill. Of course, I still have bad skin days but overall, since being on the pill my rosacea isn’t as severe as it was at 13.
Often, I’ll read up on the benefits of laser treatment envisioning what it would be like to no longer hate my appearance. Unfortunately, this treatment comes at a high price which I currently can’t afford. Hopefully soon when I have enough money saved, I’ll be able to undergo the procedure.
When I wake up in the morning my first thought is ‘what’s my rosacea like today’ (well after wishing I didn’t have to wake up) I already stress what I will look like without even having looked in the mirror yet.
Make-up is my safety. The state of my rosacea now means foundation and concealer can cover it up, however before my rosacea was so bumpy and red that it still appeared visible through the makeup.
I’m always wearing make-up as it helps me be sociable, without it I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want anyone to see me because I know what they’re thinking – that I’m ugly. It’s affected my confidence massively; I was so afraid when I first started dating my boyfriend that he’d be horrified and break up with me when he first saw me without make up on that for the first few nights, I stayed over I slept with my makeup still on (ew…you can judge me).
With Summer approaching, I’ve made a goal to go out more with friends. After a year in lockdown, I can’t bare the thought of more time spent indoors. I can no longer let rosacea impede my social life.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
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