Theresa Pignotti jokes that she was born in a dermatologist's office and saw her dermatologist more often than her own father while growing up. Although she had impetigo as a newborn and acne as an adolescent, she was still taken aback by her first rosacea flare-up. In fact, the 54-year-old respiratory therapist from Rhode Island vividly recalls that very day in 2000.
"I thought I would treat myself to a facial for my birthday," Theresa said, "but it just made my face go crazy. I looked like I was sunburned, and I had pimples and pustules all over."
She found herself back in the familiar setting of a dermatology office, where her doctor diagnosed her rosacea and prescribed topical therapy. The medication cleared up the pimples, but Theresa, who was living in Arizona at the time, said the strong sun and dry heat caused the redness to linger.
A move to the East Coast in 2002 proved to be beneficial. "It's more of a filtered sun over here, and we don't get the dryness," she said. "It's a 'happy atmosphere' for a rosacea patient."
Nonetheless, Theresa continues to be vigilant about taking her medication, which has changed several times over the years and now includes oral therapy, and she also is very attentive to her personal triggers. She said chocolate and stress are the two biggest factors in her case, and she works hard to avoid them.
Theresa also seeks out and heeds her dermatologist's opinion on new skin-care products. "We've come a long way with cleansers since I was first diagnosed," she said, adding that today's products are much gentler and allow her to avoid scrubbing and tugging on her sensitive skin. She also appreciates that some skin-care products incorporate sunscreen, as she is always vigilant about blocking the sun.
Although she uses makeup sparingly, usually just a touch on her eyelashes and lips, Theresa said she has found mineral makeup to be a real boon on the occasions when she does want to use more cosmetics. She said it doesn't irritate her skin and helps to cover redness.
"My skin looks wonderful now," she said, but quickly added a lesson from her own experience: "You can't do it on your own. You truly need your dermatologist."