I Struggled With Terrible Acne For Years

But It Wasn't Acne At All

By Thatiana Diaz @thatiana.diaz

"What's Going On With Your Skin?"

My mom asked me this (bluntly, but lovingly) during a FaceTime call. I didn't know how to answer. My skin was acting up in ways it never had before.

My Skin Was Bumpy, Red, And Had Clusters Of Pimples.

I'd never seen myself like this before, and it only seemed to get worse as time went on.

Everyone Told Me It Was Stress, But Something Was Wrong

I saw a dermatologist, who thought stress was the culprit and prescribed me a topical cream and medicated face wash. But the redness and bumpiness just spread and worsened.

I Tried Everything, But Nothing Worked

I looked into everything from dietary changes to exercise, and even tried guided meditation and yoga to de-stress. I wondered if I just needed more sleep (I didn't — I slept for 12 hours one night and saw no difference).

The Worst Part Was The Uncertainty

Because the symptoms would come and go, with clear skin one day and a bumpy mess the next, I never knew how my skin would behave. It stressed me out and started to affect my self-esteem.

A Year Later, Something Major Happened

More than a year after the worst of it began, a close friend told me about her experience with rosacea, a common skin condition that causes redness, small bumps, or sometimes broken blood vessels. The symptoms sounded oddly familiar.

Turns Out, This Misdiagnosis Happens All The Time

I returned to the dermatologist and told him that I wasn't sure the flareups were acne. "This might actually be rosacea," he said as he examined my skin — before I even mentioned it myself.

What Is Acne-Rosacea?

Acne-rosacea, as I soon learned, is a papulopustular form of rosacea, which means it presents as pus-filled bumps that are easily confused with acne.

Here's How I Learned To Deal

First, I had to learn the triggers. "We don’t know exactly what causes it, but popular triggers are stress, alcohol, extremes in temperature, and some spices,” says Dr. Day.

My Triggers Were: Heat, Exercise, And Dairy

I also removed all the harsh peels and exfoliants from my bathroom cabinets and stocked up on oil cleansers, redness-reducing mists, and masks that work well for sensitive skin.

Now, My Skin Is Back To Normal, For The Most Part

After a few short months, one 30-day cycle of an oral prescription, and a whole new skin-care routine, I've gotten back to having consistent good days as I learn how to manage my rosacea while also dealing with acne.

My Biggest Takeaway

Listen to your skin. Consistent abnormality is not normal. Sometimes getting a second professional opinion is necessary. And now, when I FaceTime with my mom, she doesn't have to ask me what happened to my face.