In every heart transplant manual, post transplant skin care gets heavy emphasis. The transplant recipient must be consistent and diligent with their skin care regimen. It is better to err on the side of caution than risk exposure to the sun. Many of the medicines that post transplant patients use put the patient at risk of skin cancer.
One of the reasons I like Tampa is that just about every day is sunny. Every morning, I would find myself wondering why I lived in the frigid northeast for so long. As gratifying as the Tampa weather is, it is no easy chore protecting one’s skin from the brilliant sun.
At one of the Tampa General post transplant classes, a nurse practitioner spent a good half hour giving us hints about shielding our skin from the sun. She encouraged the use of a 50 level sun block. If we were prone to exercise in the pool, the block should be re-applied after swimming.
I think I did everything possible but I still have contracted numerous pre-cancer cells and one cancer spot that had to be removed. I have become a very regular patient at the dermatologist, who freezes the pre-cancer cells and has determined that I have Rosacea.
Rosacea is a skin disease that concentrates on the face, neck, scalp, chest or shoulders. There is no cure for Rosacea and the exact causes are unknown.
Rosacea can be treated with a topical ointment or by internal prescriptions. Generally, women suffer more facial eruptions but men are prone to contract the most serious cases. Rosacea is most likely to affect men and women with fair skin.
The primary warning signs of Rosacea are:
Flushing – Fair skinned individuals who often blush are likely to notice that the blushing slows as the skin color intensifies into what appears to be a sunburn that never goes away.
- Pimples – Concentrated areas of bumps or pus-filled pimples that resemble acne appear and become more noticeable in time.
- Visible blood vessels – In severe cases, small blood vessels become noticeable on the skin.
Side Effects of Rosacea
- Rosacea sufferers can notice eye discomfort and watering. Eyelids can become red and swollen. If Rosacea is untreated, the cornea can become damaged and loss of vision has occurred.
- Burning or Stinging – The patient’s face is often sore to the touch but can also yield the sensation of itchiness.
- D ry Skin – At the center of the facial outbreak, the skin can appear to be very dry.
- Plaques – Plaques are raised, red patches that erupt without causing damage to the surrounding skin.
- Skin Thickening – The skin appears to enlarge, especially is areas of the nose.
- Swelling – Facial swelling, also known as edema, can take place in the absence of any other symptoms.
A meeting of 17 international experts identified 4 subtypes of Rosacesa.
- Subtype 1 – symptoms are flushing, persistent redness and visible blood vessels.
- Subtype 2 – symptoms are persistent redness accompanied by bumps and pimples.
- Subtype 3 – distinguished by thickening skin and an enlarging of the nose.
- Subtype 4 – symptoms that affect the eyes. This can include swollen eyelids, recurrent styes that can affect the cornea.
As mentioned, there is no known cure for Rosacea. By maintaining a diary, sufferers may identify factors that contribute to the outbreak of Rosacea. This enables the patient to make lifestyle changes.
In my case, I think I had Rosacea symptoms prior to the heart transplant. My dermatologist doubts that possibility. With a compromised immune system, anything is possible. In considering the emphasis of necessary skin hygiene and the exposure the skin has to everything, I suppose this is one more setback I can attribute to the transplant medicines.