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17 Things People With Rosacea Wish You Understood

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Rosacea, a disorder of the facial skin, is estimated to affect 16 million Americans, according to the National Rosacea Society. However, many of those people don’t know what the condition is. A survey by the National Rosacea Society found that 95 percent of rosacea patients had known little or nothing about its signs and symptoms prior to their diagnosis. Rosacea is not life-threatening, but because of its red and acne-like appearance, it can have damaging psychological and social side affects.

With all this in mind, The Mighty teamed up with the National Rosacea Society to ask people what they wish the world could understand about living with this condition.

This is what they had to say:

1. “We are honest when we say how painful it is. It feels like a frying pan is scorching your face. I also wish people would understand that rosacea is not just redness; it’s burning, red, swollen and painful eyes, sores on our face and  [it] gives us anxiety.” — Miller Michelle


2. “[I] wouldn’t dare show my face without makeup.” — Estelle Harrison 

3. “Think before [you] speak when my skin is bad.” — Elizabeth Mary Dougan 


4. “It’s always burned/stung every moment of every day…. I have to wear makeup when I exercise in public or have to explain that I’m fine 6,000 times. In fact, I have to wear makeup every day that I go out or at least one stranger will force me to acknowledge it or a child will innocently insult me.” — Elaina Kay


5. “Flare-ups make you wish you could wear a mask.” — Karen Cosby

6. “It never goes away. Left untreated it gets worse with bumps appearing… But at least you don’t need to use blush very often.” — Katrina Hoening


7. “I truly wish people realized how their perfume, scented lotions, air fresheners and smoking all affect and trigger my flushing. People just don’t understand the sensitivity with rosacea.” — Tonya Iverson

8. “No, I’m not having a heart attack. My face just looks that way when I exert myself.” — Kate Alexander


9. “I wish people understood the psychological ramifications of rosacea. As someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder in addition, I find myself utterly uncomfortable with interaction to the point of complete avoidance. I haven’t been in pictures since it came on two years ago, haven’t seen friends or former coworkers who have repeatedly asked to meet up. Truly it’s the side effects of rosacea, the shame and embarrassment, that really add to the difficulty of coping.” — Christina Bombina


10. “I would like people to understand the simple fact that even eating the right foods and trying to reduce stress may still mean redness and break outs. It’s something many people have had to learn to deal with. Sometimes I can go for a month or more with no problems, only to find the next day my skin has changed.” — Sharon Cinnamon

11. “I hate when people look at my sores… It is a day-to-day struggle.— Carrie Bertram


12. “Mine flares up at weird times and sometimes only on one side, which is even more embarrassing. And don’t even think of adding alcohol into the equation.” —Heather Loggie

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13. “Mine is primarily darkest on my nose and triggered mainly by emotion or stress. If I start even feeling like I’m going to cry or am getting stressed, everyone asks me if I’m sick because it looks like I’ve been blowing my nose all day.” — Elizabeth Locker Bennett

14. “It’s embarrassing and I don’t want to leave the house or I have to run home because I don’t want to be out during a flare. And yes, it hurts.” — Christina DiLallo Millbern


15. “In high school my entire face would turn purple when I did cardio, along with flushing on my chest and upper arms. When I turned 21 and had a glass of wine it was the same effect. I wasn’t diagnosed till this year at 33.” — Laura Marie Hershberger

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16. “My face is clean. I wish they understood that my acne is not due to lack of personal hygiene but rather from rosacea.” — Sheila Cordellia Hicks


17. “I hate some questions: ‘Are you shy?’ ‘Why are you nervous?’ ‘You don’t have to be red. Be cool.’ and ‘Relax.’” — Melissa Moreira



*Answers have been edited and shortened. 

Originally published: September 9, 2015
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