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My Best Rosacea Skin Routine and my Healing Journey

I feel like I am finally ready to start sharing my rosacea skin routine and entire journey with you. Since I am now finding relief and consider myself on the road to healing, I feel like sharing my story could possibly help someone. If I had shared it any sooner, it would have been basically me whining.

I experienced a cascade of health issues starting around April of 2022. I have my theories about what kicked it off, but that would require an entire post. I plan to delve into it all, because this journey has been intense. Much of it has required me to become my own health detective.

Jen in May with skin clear enough to take a car selfie.

Of course, I must emphasize that you should see your own doctor and do your own research if you are experiencing any health issues. Also, JUMPSCARE WARNING: I am going to show you my face when it was at the peak of its troubles.

Red Alert – The Eruptions are Erupting

My husband, our three dogs, and I took a road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Mike fell in love with the area after visiting there for work. If you know me at all, you know I don’t really go anywhere. My anxiety placed an invisible boundary bubble around me years ago, limiting me to about a three-town radius.

At first, I was excited about this trip. I had been really working on myself and felt ready. However, the further we got on the road and the more challenges that arose, the more I started to unravel.

Flushed neck from rosacea or hives when nervous.

As for my face, before this trip, I had been noticing some flushing. If I got stressed, nervous, or even just hot, my face would turn crazy red and almost look like hives.

For the trip, I started to get full-blown spots that I was calling acne. My cheek under my left eye became a cluster of giant, painful, zitty zits.

My anxiety on the trip was paralyzing, not because of my skin, but as part of the bundle package of my health issues. To put it simply, I was dealing with gut, skin, and anxiety issues. Of course, my appearance didn’t help matters. I was hyperaware of how I looked whenever we went out to dinner or did anything social.

Ultimately, my anxiousness, which morphed into full-blown fear, pretty much ruined the trip. We even cut it short, which I still feel bad about. I was SICK in almost every way a person can be sick.

Time to Seek Help

Once we got home from the trip, I knew I had to get help. I booked an appointment with my general practitioner. She ran a bunch of bloodwork and prescribed a variety of antibiotics and medications ‘to see if they would work.’ Well, after a few days of doxycycline, I ended up with diarrhea so severe that I ultimately went to the ER.

In the ER, I was told that I was dehydrated. They gave me fluids and told me to follow up with my GP. Their goal is to make sure you’re going to survive, not to dig any deeper than that.

I visited a board-certified dermatologist who diagnosed my sensitive skin issues as rosacea. She prescribed more antibiotics and some topical treatments. I fared a little better on this round of antibiotics, but the rosacea wasn’t budging.

It didn’t take long for me to become fed up with just meds after meds without a real explanation. I am someone who always wants to dig deeper. WHY do I have this? Inflammation? Okay, WHY am I so inflamed, and how do I fix it? WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE?

I felt myself just demolishing my gut with all the antibiotics and had enough. I found a functional medicine practitioner near me. My first appointment had me in tears. She asked questions, listened, and looked at my body as a WHOLE?! What a concept! <insert eyeroll>

The gratitude that I felt, and still feel, for finding a functional medicine practice that accepts my insurance and has the most amazing people ever, is something unmatched. Insurance doesn’t cover everything, but it made it doable. I’m also incredibly grateful that I have great insurance, thanks to my husband’s job. I know not everyone has that.

I’m not even being dramatic when I say that Dr. Caley Scott probably saved my life. Again, this wasn’t all about my looks or my skin; I had so much mental anguish that it was getting hard to see the point of fighting.

Oh, during this time, I also had a colonoscopy to rule out Crohn’s disease and some other conditions. I had other symptoms consistent with Crohn’s, but I tested negative.

Now it’s Time to Work

The thing about working with a holistic practitioner is that there is work to do! Lots of tests (many at an out-of-pocket expense), diet changes, and lifestyle tweaks. At the point I was at, I was ready. Give me homework, and I will be the best student ever.

Food sensitivities test - dairy results.

Long story short, the many tests still didn’t give us a ton of answers. Yes, I had a mild case of SIBO, a few low-level food allergies (IgE), a pretty hefty list of low-level food sensitivities (IgG), and overall inflammation.

Food allergy test. Low level allergy to peanuts and egg whites.

I went gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and avoided all my allergies and intolerances for a full six months. It’s worth mentioning that I had been on the keto diet from probably 2019 to 2021. I had been off it for about six months before all of this started happening. That information will matter in a bit.

For lifestyle changes, I tried to dig deep into some of my unresolved traumas and issues. I needed to let go of guilt about many things, stop dwelling on the past and punishing myself, and just remove some of the stress I had been putting on myself daily. I also limited my sun exposure and used sun protection which seems to be a common recommendation for people with rosacea-prone skin.

Oh, and I cannot forget the supplements. The road to functional medicine is paved with supplements. I won’t tell you what I take because that really is different for everyone!

Meanwhile, I never stopped doing my own research as well. I went down rabbit hole after rabbit hole on health topics. This can be dangerous on the internet, but as long as you check your sources, it can also be a MUST.

The Inner and Outer Detox

During my obsessive quest for answers, I stumbled upon someone talking about Breast Implant Illness. I’m sorry, WHAT? My 25-year-old implants and I had never heard of such a thing. This definitely needs to be its own series of blog posts, but it was like a blinking BILLBOARD went off in my head.

I was 19 when I got my implants, and back then, no one could have said anything to stop me. But never in a million years did I think they could be a problem NOW. After learning about it, it seems like common sense to me that they can cause issues.

But, the day I learned that breast implants can cause an inflammatory response in your body, it was news to me. Out of the 10+ doctors and specialists I had seen, not one of them mentioned my implants. NOT ONE.

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition, so it makes sense to me that I should try to do what’s in my power to reduce inflammation in my body.

I wanted them out immediately. Thankfully, I slowed down and did enough research to ensure my implants were removed the right way, with a full capsulectomy via en bloc. Again, there’s so much more to say about this, but not here.

I eliminated as many fragrances, harsh ingredients, and chemicals as possible from our household products. One day, I snapped and threw every piece of clothing, blanket, and anything washable into the laundry pile. I rewashed everything with sensitive formula detergent. No scented laundry beads, fabric softener, nothing.

There are no candles or plug-ins in this house. This is a challenge with three dogs, but I had to try everything.

Really, the only thing showing up in my blood were markers for high inflammation, so I was doing whatever I could to try to detox and get it down.

Right after my explant surgery, I got serious about following my functional medicine doctor’s protocol for my histamine issues. Apparently, I have a histamine intolerance or possibly even MCAS.

It was right around this time that my face REALLY started to clear up. I’m guessing it was mostly due to managing the histamine. My anxiety also vanished, which brought me to my knees on the floor with thankfulness

Jen taking a selfie outside.
Terrible lighting. Not a pic I ever thought I’d post, but it’s all I have from that time.

My Skincare Safari

The first topicals that the dermatologist gave me that contained azelaic acid felt like burning fire on my skin. I barely used them and really just took a holistic approach instead. I eventually got another compound topical from them that did work a bit. I will still use it during bad rosacea flare-ups.

As far as OTC skincare products go, I started using a very mild cleanser, super gentle and soft face cloths, and pure aloe vera gel as the best moisturizer. I also wash with lukewarm water instead of scalding hot like I would prefer.

Since I have papulopustular rosacea (seriously, can we get a grosser name?), I used dabs of organic multi-purpose ointment and manuka honey relief cream on extra angry spots. I’m blessed to be in a position where companies often send me products. These happened to be three of the many I received that just worked perfectly for my condition.

After the rosacea acne-like bumps and major skin irritation went down, I was even able to start using the PMD Wave Pro. I was nervous, but I finally had a smooth canvas to work with. This handy device gently stimulates and removes impurities, which was much-needed after all this trauma.

Don’t try anything without seeing your dermatologist first. We are all different, and from what I’ve learned, there are different types of rosacea, too.

A Breakdown of My Rosacea Skin Care Routine

When Inflamed

  • Fragrance-free, gentle cleanser in the morning.
  • Use super soft face towels.
  • Apply pure aloe vera gel.
  • Use Manuka Relief if skin is itchy.
  • Apply dabs of Waxelene to extra-inflamed areas.
  • Try to stay makeup-free whenever possible.

When Skin is Calm

Continue with the same routine as above, but now that my skin is smoothing out, I use the PMD Wave Pro once a week to help remove impurities and lift and tone.

Where are We Now

If you think this post is long, trust that it’s condensed as much as can be. It’s only been a few months as of December 7, 2023, that my skin has been consistently pretty good. This is without meds and Rx topicals. I’m just doing everything I’ve mentioned above, as much as I possibly can.

From what I’ve learned, there is no cure for rosacea. Apparently, it can flare up at any time. In fact, during October and November of this year, my Grandfather, who raised me, got sick and ultimately passed. This is one of the hardest deaths I’ve had to face, so the emotional stress did cause a mini flare-up.

Jen in December showing clearer skin, but a little rosacea flare-up.

Knowing the things I know now and working so hard to get my inflammation down, I was able to get it into check before it flared too much.

I also added dairy back in a little, which I immediately noticed causes some puffiness and facial redness. Whatever, I miss cheese, okay?

The semi-frustrating part is there’s no magic bullet I can tell you that fixed me. The more I worked to reduce my inflammation, the better I felt… and still feel.

As of right now, I feel so healthy. Six months ago, I could barely string two sentences together. Today, I just banged out this blog post in a couple of hours. The change is unbelievable.

I realize that rosacea is said to be a chronic skin condition, but I’m hopeful that I am learning my top rosacea triggers so I can keep it at bay.

Lessons Learned Through the Struggle

I now know that I am pretty severely gluten-intolerant without having Celiac disease. It’s why I did so well on a ketogenic diet. When I was on healthy keto, I’d never felt better. Once I started adding all the processed low-carb junk food in, I got worse again. That’s probably because keto doesn’t have to equal gluten-free.

I was raised to never leave the house without makeup and to always care how I looked. I had been slowly unlearning that for years, but rosacea really hit the gas pedal on it. During the most inflamed flares, my skin HURT really bad. I didn’t want to put makeup over it, plus sometimes makeup just made it look worse.

So, I would venture out to run errands and do whatever with the rosacea just gleaming away. You know what? NO ONE CARES (in the best way possible.) Everyone is busy and worried about their own stuff. If I did get any looks, they were usually filled with empathy or concern. I may have scared one small child, but that’s not even new.

My age helps me out with letting go of vanity, too. I’m 45 now, and completely cool with being invisible in a crowd. I want to look and feel healthy above anything else at this stage of life.

Going through this made me a lot more empathetic now, too. I feel deeply for anyone going through a health battle or chronic condition and have a new driving urge to be helpful whenever I possibly can.

Speaking of being helpful, please let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or want to share your story. Let me know if you want me to write more about any of these topics.

I know this blog is loaded with sugary, gluten-loaded sweets and treats, and I don’t even eat gluten anymore! So, there’s an identity crisis happening at A Magical Mess. Fitting, right? But, maybe I will start including some yummy gluten-free recipes as I discover them.

Rosacea sufferers, talk to me! Please let me know your favorite products. What are your common triggers and rosacea symptoms?

Danny

Tuesday 23rd of January 2024

Hi thank you for sharing this I’m a male going through the same problem as you right now. Acne rosacea I have tryed antibiotics, soolantra etc I do find allcin supplements and going dairy free help a little, did the inflammation leave dark marks on your skin after they went down? My skin is a bit oily It’s really effecting my mental heath, I believe it’s a gut problem/stress did you get rid of the sibo? it’s so strange how we can eat certain foods and they cause inflammation on the face. Also weather change’s effect my skin which I feel I can’t control do you think it could be the skin barrier? Sorry for all the questions you have done so well and you look great. Thanks again!

Jen

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

@Danny, It's so hard to say. At the peak of this, histamine was a big issue for me. So natural histamine blockers like quercetin and Vitamin C were on my list. Zyrtec + Pepcid A/C after food can also help. I was eating mostly high histamine foods, too, so cutting those was when my face starting calming down. I wish I had clearer answers! Some of my timelines blur together. What are you doing to repair your skin barrier? That's something I need to know more about.

Danny

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

@Jennifer, thank you for the reply it sure can be frustrating just so many different triggers for people, I’m gonna try and work on repairing my skin barrier and diet. I know everyone is different but what supplements did you find helped the most?

Jennifer

Tuesday 23rd of January 2024

Hi Danny! I'm sorry to hear you can relate, but thank you for the comment. I'm totally fine with questions. I'll try to answer anything I can always! I notice the spots on my left cheek never disappear completely. I guess that's leftover inflammation, but it's not the worst. Once the texture and bumpiness goes down for me, I'll take the discoloration! I also have oily skin, but that's improving with age. I've been told oily skin helps with wrinkles, so, yay?! LOL

I never retested for SIBO, so I can't say for sure if it ever went away. Once I started on a low histamine diet and taking the supplements for histamine, my symptoms went away a bit. They were gone for quite some time until I ate gluten around the holidays. I swear it was like starting from scratch after that. I clearly cannot have gluten. Corn is a trigger, too. I'm trying to just be completely grain-free right now.

I'll have to pay more attention to the weather because I hadn't made that connection, but you're probably right. Stress is DEF a huge one for me, too. Thanks again for the comment. I so wish I had "the one thing" to suggest, but it seems to be such a mix of everything for me. It's frustrating, but at least we know we aren't alone!

Shelley

Tuesday 12th of December 2023

Wow! Thank you for sharing this journey. What a horrible rollercoaster! I'm so glad you've got things under control. Seriously proud of your discipline and ability to stick to a care routine. <3

Jennifer

Tuesday 12th of December 2023

Thank you so much, sister. I sure learned a lot on the journey, so that made it worth it. <3