Rosacea is a very complex skin condition and in many cases people, especially if they are young, are misdiagnosed as having acne rather than rosacea. The danger of this is that acne medications are completely unsuitable for rosacea and can make the symptoms much worse as this young woman found out.
Emma Scholz, 29, an IT consultant from London.
“I’d been suffering with severe rosacea for almost seven years and until I discovered Kalme skincare, I honestly thought there wasn’t going to be anything that was going to save my skin as I’d literally tried everything.
My rosacea started very suddenly when I was 20. Before that I had near perfect skin. As a teen I had no spots and my skin has always been a lovely colour and clear.
I woke up one day and my face was a bit red and felt sore and my cheeks felt dry and tight. At the time I was at university studying in Southern Spain and so I thought it was just sun burn as I’d been out and about in the sun the previous day. But from that day, it just got worse and worse. First it was the soreness and the dryness, then the redness and then came the bumpiness and the intense itching, usually in that cycle.
It started just in my cheeks but within months it had spread over most of my face and down my neck.
At first, I thought maybe it was acne because of the heat or the sun creams I was using most days. So I tried all the usual treatments for acne, like anti- bacterial washes, scrubs, that kind of thing. All these products just made my skin worse and as time went by they started to really sting when I put them on my skin and my skin would go very red and then extremelydry and itchy after using them.
My skin felt utra sensitive and very reactive so I switched to products for sensitive skin as opposed to acne to see if that worked. It didn’t, my skin still carried on getting worse.
The redness was almost permanently there now, and my skin was so sore it hurt even to apply make-up. However with the state of my skin as it was there was no way I’d consider leaving the house without make up on, so I just had to bare the pain. The problem was that as my skin got worse I was applying more and more make up to try and cover it up.
By this time, I’d left university and was working in my first job. In such a professional environment where I was still relatively young compared to the people I worked with I felt I couldn’t turn up to work with red spotty skin like some teenager so I was using a lot of make up to try and disguise my skin as much as I could.
After years of battling with my skin I finally went to a dermatologist as I was beginning to face the fact that there was something wrong with my skin and it wasn’t just a passing phase or due to the sun or heat.
The first dermatologist I saw diagnosed me with adult acne and prescribed an acne cream. It stung like hell and made my skin furious. I carried on anyway hoping it was just my skin adjusting to the treatment, but it became so painful I had to stop using it.
I felt having tried so many acne treatments that this diagnosis just wasn’t correct, so I sought a second opinion. The second dermatologist immediately diagnosed me with rosacea.
He said I was quite young to get it and that was why perhaps I had been misdiagnosed the first time, as most rosacea sufferers don’t start experiencing symptoms as severe as mine until well into their 40’s.
I was prescribed a topical cream plus tablets. The cream did not really improve my skin in general. I went back to the dermatologist several times and was prescribed a series of different creams, some of which worked better than others, but all stung my skin and the results, if they were good, were often short lived and my rosacea would return with renewed ferocity.
The severity of my rosacea fluctuated a lot. During my period I’d get it much worse and so every month I’d dread the onset of another flare up. It was also affected by what I ate and drank, namely alcohol and anything spicy.
Some days my skin got so bad I was unable to go to work because my face was so painful I could barely speak. I’d have to just stay at home in the cool and try and calm my skin down with cold flannels. There would sometimes be days when I simply didn’t leave the house as my skin felt so raw and painful I just didn’t want to go outside.
My family were getting worried about me as I was clearly getting quite depressed about my skin. But I would just brush off their concerns. I think I was still in some degree of denial that my skin was in such a state. I kept thinking it would just go one day and everything would return to normal, even though I’d been told by my dermatologist that rosacea was life-long condition and would never simply ‘disappear’. I simply didn’t want to talk about it to anyone. My close friends said nothing about my skin even though it was obvious there was something very wrong. I think they sensed how upset I was about it and so felt it was better to just not mention it.
I was getting very distraught by this time. I’d spent years trying different prescription creams and nothing really seemed to be working. Fed up with the lack of results, I went back to my dermatologist to beg for something stronger.
I was eventually put on a four-month course of strong antibiotics to see if that had any effect.
I met my partner Florian in 2015, when I started a new job where he was working. Luckily when I first met him, I was at the end of the antibiotics and my rosacea was calmer. I was hopeful that at last something had finally worked. Even so I felt very insecure about my looks and so when we first started dating I was wearing a lot of make-up and would never be without it in front of him, like ever! I was always worrying that my make up was sliding off and would frequently have to check it was still in place no matter where we were.
Florian never said anything, although he must have thought I was rather vain as I was always checking my complexion. But I never spoke to him about my rosacea. I still felt unable to openly talk about it with anyone except my dermatologist.
But, inevitably, after stopping the antibiotics and a few months into our new relationship I had another flare up. Instead of talking to Florian about it, I simply cancelled dates when I felt my skin was too bad to face him.
Then one day I quite simply had had enough of living like that. I was living in a state of near permanent anxiety about what my skin would do next. I was constantly back and forth to my dermatologist.
It was when he suggested I went on my third course of antibiotics in two years that I just decided to stop going down the road I was taking. I was so fed up with all the medications and the fact that my skin seemed to hate everything that I was doing to it, I felt I just had to stop and re-group.
It felt as if no one could help me so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I hadn’t tried anything ‘alternative’ for my rosacea, believing firmly that the medical route was my best hope of a cure. As I hadn’t spoken to anyone about my skin I wasn’t getting any recommendations about anything else other than what my dermatologist prescribed.
But I felt there had to be some other way other than simply increasing the among of medications I was taking, which seemed to be the route my dermatologist was taking.
So I did what I probably should have done a long time before and I began reading blogs and support groups written by and for people with rosacea. I work in IT so my research skills are pretty thorough.
There were a lot of varied recommendations but products that kept popping up and always with very detailed and convincing reviews were Kalme products, which were a skincare range containing an extract of capers which research showed helped reduce redness and bumpiness associated with rosacea. The products also had other helpful ingredients in like prebiotics to help repair damaged weakened skin and 24 moisturisation to address the dryness and a pure mineral SPF. They contained natural but effective and well researched ingredients specifically targeting the symptoms of rosacea, which contrary to popular assumptions and most products aimed at rosacea, is not simply about redness.
I read in detail what people had to say about using the Kalme products and the effects they had and so many of the reviews sounded exactly like my experiences and were clearly genuine as I could tell by what they were saying their symptoms were and what other medications they had tried, that I decided to try the Kalme products for myself. That was just over a year ago and I haven’t looked back since.
As soon as put them on it was a relief as they didn’t sting my skin at all. However I didn’t see results immediately but I had read in the reviews and that the products take a bit of time to work, especially if you had been using medicated products for a long time previously. A degree of patience was required, they said. So I persevered.
Within two weeks I started to see a significant improvement in the state of my skin. Firstly, the itching decreased along with the dryness. The redness and bumps were still there but my skin felt less sore and softer. Then after about four weeks the bumpiness and the redness starting to really decrease.
Florian was the first person to notice the change in my skin. It was the first time he’d seriously mentioned my skin since we had started dating. He told me it looked much clearer and healthier and that I looked really well.
The relief I felt is indescribable. To finally find something that actually works and that didn’t hurt when I put it on felt like a miracle after almost eight years of struggling to find a solution for my rosacea.
I have been using the Kalme products for a year now and I would say my skin has improved about 90%, literally. Even when I have a flare up they are nowhere near as bad as they used to be and go away within a few days.
My skin doesn’t feel sore at all and its softer and more flexible and doesn’t have any bumpiness. I can still get a bit of redness now and then but the special concealer that comes in the Kalme range covers that up perfectly while not inflaming my skin.
I’ve got so much more confidence now I barely have to think about my skin. I can go to a party or a social event and never worry. I’m even sleeping better now as I think I have less anxiety.
I now wear literally half the amount of make up I used to, and I can happily go bare faced in front of Florian and will even go out in public on good days without any make up on at all, which is incredible for me.
My job takes us to different countries. I’m currently working in China and Florian and I travel a lot. I used to dread going to new climates as my skin would always flare up in changing temperatures and travelling was a disaster for it. Florian and I do a lot of outdoor stuff on our travels but as long as I religiously wear the Kalme day cream which has an SPF in it and keep a hat on, my skin it totally fine, no matter what adventures we go on. My rosacea hasn’t gone, it never will, but now it doesn’t rule my life and I feel in control of my skin, which has drastically improved my quality of life.”
Kalme Skincare is available from Skin Shop (www.skinshop.co.uk)