From the time she was 13 years old and tried a popular moisturizer on her face that brought "catastrophic red results," Cheryl Costello knew she had very sensitive skin.
Over the years, the redness on her face intensified. Next, blood vessels became noticeable and bumps (papules) began to appear.
"I had no idea what was happening, but I knew it was serious," she said. "I saw several doctors who thought it might be rosacea. One prescribed a topical ointment, which made my face worse, so I thought I just had to live with it."
Costello then began to have eye problems. At first, she was told she had conjunctivitis and to use lid scrubs. "When that didn't help, another doctor put me on steroid eyedrops for a year and a half," she said.
Knowing that her eyes and facial condition were worsening, she wrote down all of her symptoms and things she tried over the last 40 years. She then went to an ophthalmologist who was a corneal specialist and he diagnosed her eye symptoms as ocular rosacea. He told her it would take some time to get the eyes back to normal and prescribed an oral antibiotic, an ointment for the eyelids, strong steroid eyedrops that would gradually be reduced in potency, and eye scrubs.
A dermatologist at the University of Iowa diagnosed her facial symptoms as rosacea and prescribed a topical antibiotic cream for sensitive skin, and suggested laser treatments to improve the appearance of dilated blood vessels.
"My rosacea has finally stabilized with the help of my new ophthalmologist and dermatologist," Costello reported. "The laser treatments temporarily helped take care of the blood vessels, but I needed a second round of laser treatments after three years. I also had cataract surgery and now only need glasses for reading. I try to stay out of direct sunlight and use products on my face that are mild and don't irritate the skin. I feel like I finally have this problem under control."