I’m an open book, as anyone who knows me personally will know. In fact, I think I’m probably more of a chronic over-sharer – there are not many people who don’t know way too much about my lack of gallbladder and ovary, or the story of X’s traumatic birth.
But there is one thing that I hide pretty much daily.
I have a skin condition.
I have rosacea.
I’ve had this for a long while now, but it’s only the last few years that I’ve discovered a good way of covering it up.
Rosacea is, in the words of the NHS,
“… a common but poorly understood long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face.
It can be controlled to some degree with long-term treatment, but sometimes the changes in physical appearance can have a significant psychological impact.”
For me, it affects the skin across my cheeks, nose, forehead, and upper chest, and the degree of redness varies daily. Some days it’s hardly noticeable, I just look a little flushed, but after exercise it becomes extremely painful – not unlike sunburn – and my skin can be almost beetroot in colour.
The pain I have always managed to deal with – it’s just a case of finding a way to cool my skin back down again, so things like cold flannels or a fan work wonders – but the physical appearance of it can utterly cripple my confidence.
It makes me look more unfit than I am, which means I avoid doing exercise when people can see me. I find it really embarrassing, which of course, makes me blush which makes it worse!
Rosacea – My Secret Skin
And it’s not just the redness. During bad flare ups rosacea can affect my eyes, making them feel gritty and sore and look bloodshot, and I also get painful blister-like spots around my jawline and nose that hang around for ages and leave scars.
At its absolute worst about 8 years ago, I was using topical antibiotic creams to prevent the huge flare ups I was having – at one point it was so bad that the skin on my nose was peeling away in huge clumps!
These days I have found not only ways of covering it up with makeup, but also ways of managing it, thanks to finally discovering cleaning products that don’t aggravate my skin.
It’s still a difficult thing for me to deal with however and is a constant worry in the back of my mind. As someone who struggles with social anxiety, my rosacea gives me another whole layer of worry!