Rosacea effects one in ten people and is most typical in women over the age of 50 and is often triggered or exacerbated by the menopause.
However it can occur in younger women and also in men. Notably even though less men get rosacea than women, in men the symptoms are usually more severe.
Sorele Swallow, 31, is a student nurse from Chesterfield and is married with four children aged 11, 9, 5 and 2 who developed rosacea at an unusually young age.
“Catching sight of your own reflection in the mirror or a shop window and feeling upset isn’t a good feeling.
“Neither is watching people’s shocked reaction when they see your face for the first time, which happens to me a lot as a student nurse. When I started to train as a nurse I was worried people would look at me and think that I didn’t look healthy.
That is how rosacea makes you feel. Until this year I thought I’d never find a cure for my rosacea and that I’d feel and look this way forever. I’d tried everything and more to try and clear up my red, blotchy and puss covered skin. I never thought I was going to feel good about the way I looked again.” Sorele told Skin Magazine.
Acne rosacea is a hereditary inflammatory skin condition that causes dilation of the blood vessels just below the skin’s surface.
It’s often a misconception that people who have rosacea also have oily skin and acne. Adult acne and acne rosacea are often confused but are in fact very different skin conditions and require very different treatments.
Checklist for spotting rosacea symptoms
- Your nose and/or cheeks are often red
- The spots are small and pussy and only on your cheeks and nose
- You were over the age of 30 when you started to get the spots
- Your facial skin feels bumpy
- Your spots and redness get worse in the heat or the cold, in the sun, after drinking alcohol or eating spicy food or after you use certain skincare products
“I first developed rosacea after I had my first child when I was 20. I have four children and my skin got worse after each one. Although I loved having my children young, I was horrified by how much it ruined my skin,” says Sorele.
“I was finally diagnosed with rosacea when I was 23. I was told I was very young to have the condition as it generally effects women in their 40’s onwards.They said it could be due to the disruptions of my hormones from pregnancy.”
There’s no conclusive evidence that rosacea is triggered in women by hormonal disruptions, however the menopause is often a danger zone. Pregnancy can also trigger rosacea, especially if the pregnancy is when a woman is over 30.
“I was prescribed metronidazole gel which is a topical antibiotic. It didn’t get rid of my spots or make the horrible red bumpiness that was all over my cheeks and nose any better and it really dried out my skin,” Sorele says.
“Meanwhile I tried all the creams and lotions in the chemists that claimed to help my type of skin but nothing worked or made it worse. The only make make-up I could use was Bare Minerals, but even that started to make my skin flare up after a few months.
But I’d got to the point where I didn’t want to put anything on my skin at all and I had to go bare faced out in public without my make-up which was tough.
I ended up talking about my skin all the time. I could see people looking at it so I’d quickly tell them what was wrong with me to just get it over with. My kids would ask me why I was always spotty.”
Rosacea is a very complex skin condition so treatments vary widely and what may suit once person may not suit another, so a degree of trial and error to find what works best for you is usually necessary.
Many people with rosacea will either initially or eventually opt to move away from treating their skin with antibiotics or medicated treatments due to the chronic and permanent nature of the condition.
Most people decide they can’t use medications forever and so alternative or more managerial solutions that at the very least help cut down on their reliance on medications and at best remove the need for them altogether.
But what you chose to use to manage your rosacea is a very personal choice, depending on the severity of symptoms, how much it effects your life, what your lifestyle habits are and what your feelings are towards use of medicated or non-medicated treatments.
“In desperation I opted for a course of oral antibiotics but the doctor was worried that I might get pregnant again and the antibiotics for rosacea can cause birth defects. The doctor suggested that I had a coil fitted beforehand to ensure I wouldn’t get pregnant while the antibiotics, “ says Sorele.
“So I had to weigh up my desire to have more children with the need to try and clear my skin. It was a tough decision but in the end I opted to put my skin first.
However my experiment with antibiotics was short-lived. Within weeks I felt sick most days and my skin was super dry. I only managed to stay on them for a month and then had to stop as I felt so ill.
I was at my wits end and was feeling very depressed and anxious. I felt I was trying to follow all the advice and even make big sacrifices for my skin and yet nothing was working.
My husband saw how down I was getting and was as desperate as me to find something to treat my skin just so I felt better about myself again.
I was even considering trying antibiotics again. I was breast feeding with my fourth child at the time so I had to make a hard choice again.
But luckily before I could try them again I saw a post from a beauty blogger about KALME products. The blogger actually had rosacea herself and she seemed utterly convinced by the KALME products so I checked out all the ingredients and they seemed to be chemical free and were targeted at rosacea instead of just for sensitive or spotty skin like many products.
I ordered the products that had been recommended and felt an almost immediate improvement.
The KALME products didn’t burn my skin at all, which was a very good sign as almost every product I had tried did.
Within a week my skin looked a lot less angry. Within a month it was really unbelievable and people had started to comment on how much better my skin looked. There was at least a 70% improvement in all my symptoms. The flushing had gone right down the bumpy spots pretty much disappeared and my skin was less swollen and sore.
Now, several months on, my skin is basically clear of rosacea. I get a few spots now and then and I still flush a bit when the central heating goes on or if I’ve been out in the sun but on a day to day basis my skin is normal. I don’t get any bumps at all, my skin is smooth.
As a result my confidence has returned and bloomed. I’m honestly not a vain person, I don’t think I’m stunning or anything. I just want to look normal without people staring at me.
People think it’s no big deal having bad skin but it actually effects every part of your life. I feel liberated not having to worry about my skin every day, it’s really changed my whole outlook on life.”