Unlike many rosacea patients whose initial signs and symptoms come and go and gradually intensify, Jo-El Lacy's symptoms seemed to appear virtually overnight. The 35-year-old Chicagoan said that shortly after discontinuing oral contraceptives she noticed some redness on her cheeks. Within a week, her cheeks were bright red and covered with pimples.
During the next six months, Jo-El saw several different doctors, but each prescribed acne medication that only made her skin more red, irritated and painful. The condition caused her embarrassment and frustration, and the timing couldn't have been worse. She had been preparing to compete in the Ms. Illinois Galaxy Pageant, but with rosacea obscuring her previously porcelain-like complexion, she was ready to withdraw from the beauty contest.
"Thinking of going onstage in front of people with my skin like this made me very depressed," Jo-El said. "I was sitting home one night, just going through the Yellow Pages looking for a dermatologist when I came across an ad that said 'Emergency dermatology appointments available.' To me, this was an emergency."
Jo-El contacted the dermatologist, who was able to fit her in the next day. He immediately diagnosed her condition as rosacea and started her on a short-term course of oral therapy, as well as a topical medication. Within a matter of weeks, Jo-El's skin began to clear.
Jo-El said her medication has been effective in controlling her rosacea, and only occasionally does the raw, windy Chicago weather prompt a mild flare-up.
"The only time I have a problem is if I'm going in and out, in and out, from warm to icy cold," she said.
In fact, Jo-El's medication cleared her skin so completely that she didn't have to withdraw from the beauty competition. She won both the state and the international competition, proudly bringing the crown home to Chicago.