A local CBS News anchor stepped out of the shadows to reveal a skin condition that has covered her face for months, relieving herself of the emotional exhaustion that came with hiding it.
Frances Wang, who works at CBS Miami, unveiled her struggle in a moving Instagram post on Sept. 17, which included a series of photos showing the progression of her condition in the last four months.
“I’m honestly terrified of posting these pictures, but I’m also so tired of trying to hide it,” Wang wrote. “Those of you who know me know that I love feeling free to go anywhere at any time not dressed up, with no makeup on.”
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Wang, 27, is suffering from perioral dermatitis, a non-contagious, acne-like rash that develops around the mouth, nose, and eyes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
While a definitive cause is unknown, the condition can arise from exposure to allergens or irritants, though many develop it from applying corticosteroid medication on the skin for too long, the AAD noted.
“I’ve been on six antibiotics in the last few months and have put on so many prescribed topicals on my face that I’ve lost count. I never had acne but I did have eczema on-and-off growing up,” Wang recalled.
Wang sought help from a dermatologist who prescribed a topical steroid cream, which only made her skin break out more. To make matters worse, she was prescribed more steroids after getting sick at one point.
“My face blew up,” the 27-year-old told People. “It looked like a giant rash like I had a crazy allergic reaction with acne on top of it.”
As her condition progressed, Wang became more anxious about appearing on air. Until mid-September, she managed to hide her struggle from coworkers for four months.
“Whenever I could see myself for too long in the peripheral screen, my heart would start racing, my palms were sweaty and I was so nervous,” she told the outlet.
“There was a time in July when I felt like I was doing such a horrible job I was reconsidering my whole career. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not meant to do this, I’m not cut out for it, I’m not good at this.’ And only in hindsight did I realize it was coming from the insecurity of my face.”
In her Instagram post, Wang recalled receiving messages of concern from viewers who noticed changes in her appearance, but also “a few mean comments” from some. She expressed gratitude to friends, her work family, and strangers from a Facebook support group who have shared similar stories.
“As someone who never had skin issues before, I wouldn’t have been able to relate,” Wang wrote. “But now, I will be so much more understanding & empathetic and for that, I am grateful.”
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I didn’t want to go into the details of what caused my skin condition until after I found a way to cure it, but all the messages people have sent me made me feel like it’s my duty to share with you this PSA & warning. I’m sure there’s a bunch of other factors too, but all 4 dermatologists I’ve seen since believe that this was primarily steroid-induced. LEFT: my face, no makeup in March after I used a bottle of steroid creams on my face prescribed for my eczema. I had no idea what I was truly putting on my face – no proper instruction & no warnings. A powerful quick fix. RIGHT: my face, no makeup today after using TWO bottles. I was diagnosed with #PerioralDermatitis by 5 dermatologists but now that it’s spread to my forehead… I guess it’s no longer just Perioral. I also recently discovered many other people with #TopicalSteroidWithdrawl (theirs are more extreme) who also were not properly diagnosed or warned. The details are in my IG STORY HIGHLIGHT. I was used to having the same doctors my entire life, growing up in CA. I TRUSTED THEM WITH MY LIFE! But then I moved to a new coast, new state, new medical system. I have now found doctors I trust & feel truly care, but this damage, as you can see, is done. Lots of trial & error & unknowns. I don’t blame anyone because at the end of the day, I am my biggest advocate. I learned my lesson the hard way and I’m still suffering – I really hope this will prevent someone else from going through the same physical, emotional, & psychological pain. #perioraldermatitis #eczemahelp #topicalsteroidwithdrawal #skinproblems
Wang says she honestly “can’t go on air” at this point, but her boss has helped her understand and realize that the situation is, after all, a medical issue. She is also glad about finally opening up, as it connected her with those facing the same battle and made her “feel like I’m doing something for others.”
“Some weeks, I do just want to go into hiding, but I like to joke that the only thing greater than my insecurity is my #FOMO!” Wang wrote. “I try to think that when this goes away, I will be glowing more than ever so just a heads up.”
Featured Images via Instagram / @franceswangtv