Christine Patterson does not go so far as to call her dermatologist a miracle worker, but she is effusive with her praise for the doctor who helped her overcome her severe flare-ups of papules and pustules.
"It was amazing how in two years' time I went from a horrible breakout to almost clear skin," said Christine, a 62-year-old medical coder from Arkansas. "Even with the stress I've had this year — I thought I was having a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital — my rosacea didn't flare up."
Christine was first diagnosed with rosacea in 1995, and it was quickly brought under control with a course of oral therapy. She stayed in remission for many years until a series of extremely stressful events in 2006 brought her rosacea signs and symptoms back with a vengeance.
"My boss kidded me that I looked like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Christine said. She resumed her oral therapy under the care of her general practitioner and also underwent a series of laser treatments. But her flare-ups continued, and she was referred to a dermatologist. Finally, she asked for and received a referral to the director of research in the dermatology department at the state university.
"It took a while to get in to see her, but it was worth the wait," Christine said. "It was a one-hour appointment, and she asked me questions and listened to my concerns. Then, she actually did a biopsy of my skin."
After an initial course of oral and topical rosacea therapy, Christine now uses topical therapy only. She washes her face with a mild soap and uses dry mineral makeup as recommended by her doctor to cover any redness.
Christine noted that stress is the only rosacea trigger she has been able to identify, but she takes precautions against sun exposure, heat and humidity just the same. "I'm not a pool person," she said. "I'm not often in the sun for any length of time, but when I do go out, I wear a hat and sunscreen."
Because Christine's complexion is so improved, she rarely hears comments or questions about her rosacea. But she is eager to talk to fellow sufferers, especially to urge them to find a doctor who is best-suited to their needs.
"So many people are hesitant to ask for a second opinion because they think, 'It's just rosacea.' But it can scar you both physically and mentally," she said. "Put yourself first and ask questions. See what your options are."