March 2021

Hello, my name is Gabby, I’m 16 and I have rosacea. Put simply, rosacea is a skin condition that makes my face red, especially over my nose and cheeks, and can also cause a burning sensation. I have suffered from rosacea for most of my life, but the first time I really began to take any notice of it was when I started secondary school.

Rosacea at school

I went to a large secondary school which had over 2000 students, so I had to socialise and get involved in things every day, but I feel as if my rosacea made this more difficult for me in the early years of my school life. My skin would flare up on random occasions, turning red and blotchy looking all of a sudden – I couldn’t cover it up or hide anywhere. I have lost count of the number of times somebody has said “your face is so red” or “are you embarrassed or something?”- My self-confidence was at an all-time low throughout school and I felt as if it was completely out of control. 

Sport and rosacea

Sport is a massive part of my life and I have always played netball and enjoyed keeping fit, but whenever I exercised my face would burn up and I would end up looking like a tomato. This discouraged me from taking part in PE at school and I would never really enjoy any of the sessions, as I knew it was inevitable that my skin would flare up afterwards and I would get the usual stares as I walked around school. 

It got to the point where my skin was physically painful – it felt like my whole body was on fire whenever my rosacea flared up, and I was beginning to develop rough bumps on the side of my cheeks that made me feel even more self-conscious. During this time, I was struggling to walk around school without being filled with embarrassment, which would then make my skin go even more red. I would always try to cover up as much of my face as much as possible wherever I could, whether this was with a scarf or my hands in photos. 

Help from my GP for rosacea

I eventually ended up talking to my GP.  They prescribed me with tablets first, but they didn’t really help at all. I then went back and was given a series of creams – none of which made any impact on my skin. It was frustrating and upsetting to me that nothing worked – I felt as if I had been pushed into a corner where nothing and nobody could help me with my skin.

I was officially diagnosed with rosacea a few years ago by a dermatologist; I told her all about the countless creams and tablets I had taken to try to hide the redness, and of course I was happy to finally have an answer to the problem with my skin, but it was hard to accept that rosacea has no magic bullet cure. 

It shocked me to find that rosacea is actually a very common skin condition that affects lots of adults and teenagers. This has encouraged me to talk openly about my rosacea and urge others to do so as well. I have come to realise that rosacea is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and that I am not defined by my skin condition. I am now studying at college and have become so much more confident simply through realising this.

Moving forward with a positive outlook on my rosacea

My goal for the future is to tell as many people as possible that having a visual skin condition is perfectly ok. I think I will always be working on loving my skin for what it is and learning to fully accept it. By talking to others about rosacea I have been able to spread awareness and enable others to understand how people with skin conditions feel when others make certain comments or stare in a certain way. 

Gabriella English

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