Around April 2021, I started noticing my skin breaking out a lot more than usual. Before this, my skin would get the occasional pimple but nothing I concerned myself too much about because it always cleared up.
I figured this increase in pimples was due to mask-wearing and knew “maskne” was a thing affecting a lot of people. So I bought acne wash and diligently exfoliated every day. I wasn’t sure why I was getting it now after wearing a mask for over a year but I didn’t think too much of it.
Then I noticed little red bumps all underneath my chin. I had never had acne there before and wondered if it was a rash. I have extremely sensitive skin and often break out in hives and sometimes, the occasional rash but they always go away after a bit. I made an appointment with my dermatologist just to be safe.
I was shocked when he diagnosed me with acne rosacea. It’s a genetic condition that can be triggered by sun, stress, alcohol, or certain foods. Rosacea does not run in my family and it didn’t make any sense to me. Why now? He said it’s common for people ages 30-50 to be hit for the first time with rosacea if they’re pre-disposed to it. He said perhaps the mask-wearing triggered it. Really? After a year of wearing a mask, it strikes now? I left his office in a daze with a prescription for metronidazole gel which is an antibacterial ointment and a pamphlet on rosacea triggers.
I did as much research as I could find on rosacea. The more I read, the more depressed I became. It’s a chronic condition and there is no known cure. I talked to my mom and she couldn’t think of anyone in our family who has rosacea. It’s more common in fair-skinned people so I didn’t think it was on my dad’s side since he’s Chinese. When I asked him, he didn’t know anything about it.
I diligently put the metrogel on my face twice a day. I avoided alcohol but don’t drink anyway so that wasn’t a problem. I made sure to stay out of the sun as much as possible. But the rosacea got progressively worse. More redness and more pimples showed up on my chin, my nose, and my cheeks. My skin became really dry. I got hives along my jawline on the left side of my face.
I saw another dermatologist and she told me to stop using the metrogel as it was drying my face out, and instead, prescribed me Oracea oral antibiotics. She also sold me some serum, cleanser, and sunscreen for sensitive skin types.
Feeling hopeful I put the serum all over my face. She said my skin was really dry and this would plump it up. It contained hyaluronic acid. I’d never really used products with hyaluronic acid before. It stung a bit but I figured that was normal. I went to bed and my face was feeling hot but I figured that meant it was working.
The next morning, my whole face was puffed up and red like I had a really bad sunburn. My face felt like it was on fire and it throbbed. The only good thing was that the red bumps weren’t noticeable anymore because my entire face was now red!
I didn’t realize that hyaluronic acid sucks up moisture from wherever it can. If it’s put on really dry skin, it’ll suck up the moisture from deep within the skin which is exactly what happened to me. Now I had rosacea and extremely damaged skin. I was horrified and extremely upset. At least the hives were gone.
I spent the next few days repairing my very damaged skin barrier. I bought whipped shea butter with olive leaf from Evan Healy which did wonders for my skin. I used Aveeno ultra-calming nourishing night cream with oat and feverfew. Finally my skin calmed down and lost its redness.
But then the rosacea was back more ferocious than ever. Many papules and pustules all over. I went back to my original dermatologist and he prescribed Soolantra.
And what does Soolantra do? It’s an anti-parasitic. Stay tuned for my next post to find out what I think is the root cause of my rosacea.