When Joyce Kierstead first began to notice the road map of tiny red lines appearing on her chin in her late 20s, she didn't realize it would lead her down the wrong path.
"It sent me right to the nearest cosmetic counter, where I ended up getting all the wrong information," Kierstead said. She was often told her problem was that she was not cleaning her skin properly, or that she needed a better foundation.
"I'd bring home lots of expensive products, cleansers, exfoliating agents and foundations, often with ingredients like alcohol, citrus acid and other irritants," she said.
Many of the products seemed to work at first. Later, to her dismay, they seemed to do more damage to her skin than good. "They made my face dry and chapped," Kierstead said. "Sometimes, they even left my skin raw."
When it became clear that her youthful glow was being replaced with rough, red and painful facial skin, she became alarmed. "I was getting really concerned," she said. It became even more disturbing when suddenly things went wrong with her eyes.
"One day, I simply couldn't wear my contact lenses anymore," Kierstead said. "The pain in my eyes was so bad, I couldn't get them in."
Finally she sought professional help from her physician and learned she had rosacea. Oral antibiotics cleared her eye symptoms, and she began using a combination of a topical gel and cream on her face long term. "They were lifesavers," she said.
Kierstead also learned more about how to treat her skin and what aggravates it. "I gently clean my face with an alcohol-free cleanser and warm water," she said. "I stay away from all fad products. I used to be a sun worshiper, but now I also protect my face from the sun.
"I still have good times and some bad times," Kierstead said. "But, I have really learned to live with this condition."