Clarence Halpny's wife Marilyn suspects that he had rosacea most of his adult life because his nose was almost continually red and swollen with excess tissue, a hallmark of subtype 3 (phymatous) rosacea, when the two first met while he was in his early 60s. Although they were soon married, it wasn't until Clarence began experiencing frequent outbreaks of pimples that she convinced him to seek diagnosis and treatment.
Clarence's physician confirmed Marilyn's hunch that rosacea was the culprit, and prescribed both antibiotics and topical therapy as well as a medicinal shampoo. Clarence, now 88 years old and a former railroad employee living in Arizona, battled the disorder for nearly a decade as his symptoms became more persistent and pronounced.
Although topical therapy alone was not enough for complete remission, he was concerned about the effect of prolonged use of the strong antibiotic his doctor prescribed. After doing some research on newer and different medications, Clarence asked about switching to a different form of oral therapy about three years ago.
Within months of making the switch in his oral treatment, both Clarence and his wife were amazed at the improvement in his condition.
"He had been having outbreaks on his face, his head, his neck and torso," Marilyn said. "Since his doctor changed his prescription, he hasn't had anywhere near the problems he had before."
Clarence still uses his medicinal shampoo, but he no longer needs to use his topical therapy in areas beyond the face. He said he now gets an occasional flare-up only when he forgets to shield his nose from the strong Arizona sun.
Besides the sun, Clarence has not been able to pinpoint any specific triggers for his rosacea. He said he enjoyed beer and spicy foods in his younger days, but couldn't correlate either with an increase in rosacea symptoms.
Clarence said he has never talked much with others about his condition, but Marilyn did not hesitate to offer advice to other rosacea sufferers.
"Get all the information that you can," she said. "It was so obvious to me when we met that something was wrong with his nose, but at that time I didn't know much about the disorder. I wrote for information and started reading all that I could get my hands on."