By Kathy Stern's recollection, it all started at the age of 46 when she decided to try a new facial cream containing alpha hydroxy acids, which help remove dead skin cells and make skin smooth. At first, said Stern, her skin never looked better. Then, everything went awry.
"I switched brands and almost immediately my chin started breaking out, then my cheeks. The women at the cosmetic counter said this redness sometimes occurs when you first use these products."
Stern decided to stop using the cream anyway, but her face grew worse. Her nose became inflamed and distorted looking. "There was such swelling and redness it actually changed the way I look," she said.
This facial dilemma, on top of day-to-day pressures, put Stern under tremendous stress. "I went into the bakery one day and a woman I've known for years asked me what was wrong. When I told her I didn't know, she told me she was sad because she always thought my face was beautiful," recalled Stern.
She began declining social invitations and avoiding meetings at work. Finally, she knew something had to be done.
Stern went to a dermatologist who immediately recognized her condition as rosacea. The doctor prescribed oral and topical antibiotics and mentioned how a variety of factors, like stress, the weather and foods, can aggravate the condition.
"After about a month of treatment I started to see some improvement," Stern said. She took a relaxing trip with her daughter and her face was nearly normal two months later.
"I've learned to control my rosacea through medication and by controlling my activities and diet," Stern said. She has also learned the importance of seeking early medical attention.
"Make sure you see your doctor right away if you have any condition on your skin you can't control," she advises.