"I Wondered What People Were Thinking"

Patty couldn't imagine there might be a medical reason for her red puffy nose. She did think it was strange, however, that the redness seemed to appear after drinking coffee.

A bank officer, Patty started noticing the redness after her morning coffee break. "My colleagues started making comments," she said. "I was concerned because in my position, I was constantly before the public."

Then the breakouts started. "As soon as one blemish cleared up, another one would pop up somewhere else," she said. Of English descent, Patty said she had her share of acne as a teenager, but this was more difficult. "I wondered what people were thinking," she said. "It definitely affected my self-confidence."

She tried numerous facial products that only seemed to make her skin look worse. Meanwhile, her condition continued to grow more permanent and noticeable.

Finally she made an appointment with a dermatologist, who diagnosed her rosacea and prescribed oral and topical therapy. She was also advised to revise her skin-care routine to include gentle products and identify personal triggers that cause flare-ups. She quickly realized coffee was a culprit and now avoids steaming hot coffee, because the heat causes her nose to flare up.

"What a difference it made," she said. "It only took about six weeks to feel normal again."

Patty said she has learned a valuable lesson: "We each know our own bodies best. So any time you notice a change that is unusual, check it out."

It wasn't unusual for friends and relatives to say something to Edward about his skin condition. "They often asked me what was wrong with my face," he said. "I didn't know how to answer them."

Edward's condition started in his late 40s. "My first noticeable symptoms were pustules (pimples) on my left cheek that would break and weep," he said. "This initial outbreak coincided with an extremely stressful situation at work."

The symptoms grew worse. In addition to his left cheek, bumps and pimples began to appear on his nose, and he suffered occasional outbreaks on other parts of his face as well.

"It was unsightly and embarrassing," Edward said. However, because the symptoms only affected one side of his face, his condition initially baffled his doctors.

Finally, after reading an article on rosacea, things suddenly started to make sense. "I always had a ruddy complexion, and that may have masked the early rosacea symptoms of redness," he said.

Edward contacted a dermatologist, who confirmed he suffered from the condition and immediately started him on rosacea therapy.

"It was like a magic bullet that began clearing up the pustules on my face as soon as I took the first capsule," he said. His doctor eventually prescribed a topical therapy and directed Edward to apply it daily. "This treatment has been the best yet," he said.

Edward has also learned more about rosacea and how to keep it under control, including avoidance of lifestyle factors that aggravate his condition. Through his personal research, he has learned that for him, stress is a major trigger. "The worst outbreaks generally come after stressful events," he said.

Today, however, Edward feels much more in control. "I am extremely fortunate to be well-informed on this chronic condition and what to do about it," he said. "I was not always so lucky."

For comprehensive information on rosacea, visit the National Rosacea Society Web site at rosacea.org, or call its toll-free number at 1-888-NO-BLUSH. Information and educational materials are also available by writing the National Rosacea Society, 111 Lions Dr., Ste. 216, Barrington, Illinois 60010 or via e-mail at info@rosacea.org.

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