Although Rosa Menchen had battled skin problems for years, she received her rosacea diagnosis less than two years ago — quite by accident.
The 59-year-old chaplain from Arizona accompanied her son to his dermatologist appointment, but ended up becoming the patient when the doctor walked in the examining room and immediately announced to Rosa, “I know what you have. You have rosacea.”
Rosa said previous doctors had never put a name to her itching, burning facial breakouts, most likely because her flare-ups almost always dissipated by the time she could get an appointment. Still, she received prescriptions for topical steroids and recommendations for allergy medication and over-the-counter products, all of which did little to prevent her painful outbreaks.
This time, however, the dermatologist prescribed topical rosacea therapy, which Rosa started using on a Friday. By Monday, her skin was clear.
“My husband was amazed,” Rosa said. “I had a picture that was taken right before I started the medication, and I showed it to him. He couldn’t believe the difference.”
While her flare-ups have not completely disappeared, Rosa said they occur much less frequently and do not last as long. She gives credit to her new skin-care routine as well as the medication.
"I had to experiment with sunscreen and makeup, because I have tried products in the past that were fine for a little while but then started causing breakouts,” she said. After much trial and error, she was successfully able to find a skin care and makeup regimen that worked for her individual condition, focusing on milder products that were safe around her eyes and eyelids.
Rosa said the sun is the leading trigger for her rosacea flare-ups, but she also suffers from fibromyalgia and finds that a flare-up of that condition can trigger an outbreak of her rosacea symptoms. She tries to eat a well-balanced diet and get enough sleep in an effort to keep both ailments at bay.
Even though her rosacea went undiagnosed for so many years, Rosa said she felt the emotional sting common to many rosacea patients — including a time when she was asked to wait outside when picking up her children from school because the staff thought her skin condition was contagious. No longer is that a worry, she said.
“My skin has improved so much that people don’t believe I’m almost 60,” she said.