Former Met police officer who suffered stress-triggered skin condition after workplace bullying finds ‘miracle’ cure

A former police officer who suffered a stress-triggered skin condition on her face after workplace bullying and feared she “looked like a monster” has found a “miracle” cure since leaving the force.

Sally Quest, 54, of Anglesey, North Wales, spent months on sick leave in 2017 after struggling with bullying at the Metropolitan Police, where she worked for 30 years.

She was diagnosed with stress-induced rosacea – a condition that typically creates vivid red patches on the face and was so severe she avoided socialising.

Now, Sally’s skin is clear and she is semi-retired, working part-time for the Royal Mail (Collect/PA Real Life)
Now, Sally’s skin is clear and she is semi-retired, working part-time for the Royal Mail (Collect/PA Real Life)

Her condition improved after changing roles at work and using Kalme Skin Care products on her face.

Sally, who is now semi-retired, works part-time as a Royal Mail delivery driver and has three children in their 20s, said: “Aside from trying to deal with a truly horrendous situation at work, my skin was breaking out in red, swollen blotchy patches.

“I felt that the despair I felt inside, that I was trying to hide from people at work, was manifesting itself all over my face and everyone kept staring at me.”

She added: “I just felt so badly treated and I hadn’t actually done anything wrong.

“I’d given that organisation 30 years of my life, I made a lot of sacrifices and worked really hard. But I learned a lot from the experience.”

When the blotches on Sally’s face started to become painful, she sought medical advice.

Sally says she did not want to meet up with friends or family as she became very self-conscious of her skin (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sally says she did not want to meet up with friends or family as she became very self-conscious of her skin (Collect/PA Real Life)

She said: “My GP confirmed it was rosacea, a long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face, and put it down to the fact that I was dealing with stress because of all these problems I had at work.

“My skin got worse and worse as the months progressed. It got really unsightly and compounded the stress that I was already under.

“I found Kalme Skin Care just by researching on the internet for natural products and I couldn’t believe how well it worked.”

She added: “Words cannot express how it was like a miracle.”

Prior to finding the cream, Sally was prescribed various medications from her GP to combat her skin condition.

She said: “They gave me gels and creams and I had different antibiotics. They tried me with lots of different things but none of them worked.”

Sally’s skin broke out in red, swollen blotchy patches (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sally’s skin broke out in red, swollen blotchy patches (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I was at my wit’s end. I was very, very low in my mood and I was quite severely stressed because there were lots of other issues like the workplace bullying.

“I had worked really hard my whole career so to be treated like that was actually quite shocking.

“I don’t actually have many photos of myself in my uniform. I was so bitter about it all that I literally threw them all away.”

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She added: “My skin condition was really affecting me too. Someone made a jibe at me, saying, ‘Aren’t you too old for spots?’

“It was a joke, albeit a hurtful one, which cut me to the bone.”

Sally admitted she struggled to cope.

When the blotches on her face started to become painful, Sally sought medical advice (Collect/PA Real Life)
When the blotches on her face started to become painful, Sally sought medical advice (Collect/PA Real Life)

She said: “I felt my whole world had been turned upside down.

“In the end, I couldn’t cope and suffered from a period of acute depression and eventually had to take sick leave from work to get myself better.”

Furthermore, Sally’s skin started to affect her social life.

Sally worked as a police officer for 30 years (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sally worked as a police officer for 30 years (Collect/PA Real Life)

She said: “I just didn’t want to come into contact with people. As much as they are good friends or family and they love me, I felt so inhibited and very self-conscious.

“When it’s on your face, it’s very apparent and people are naturally going to look at it even if they don’t make comments. I just thought I looked like a monster.

“If I went out, then I would wear makeup but obviously makeup can only do a certain amount of covering up and it exacerbates the problem because it irritates your skin.”

Sally was prescribed various medications from her GP to combat her skin condition (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sally was prescribed various medications from her GP to combat her skin condition (Collect/PA Real Life)

Sally’s work situation was addressed and she was able to return to work.

She said: “My doctor said that the only way I could go back to work was if I was relocated to an environment where I was going to feel able to function and to perform a role within the organisation.

“The chief medical officer agreed and eventually I did go back to work to a totally separate job in a separate area and did my last year before retirement there.”

She added: “Thankfully, my work representative backed me all the way. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for my skin.”

Searching for a cure, Sally found Kalme Skin Care online in April 2017 and ordered the cleanser and day cream.

She said: “I was willing to try anything and had seen some reviews for the products that looking promising.”

Sally started to notice her skin clearing just weeks after using the cream (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sally started to notice her skin clearing just weeks after using the cream (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “Unbelievably, over a period of weeks, the blotches and blisters started to heal and then, after a few months, the redness also disappeared.

“When you’ve been living with something like rosacea, it feels like it’s never going to end, so to have found something that really worked for me felt pretty miraculous.”

Now, Sally’s skin is clear.

She said: “The products worked wonders so I just never stopped using them.

“I apply the cleanser and day cream morning and night and I also use a mask once a week.

“My skin has been clear ever since. I’ve even got family and friends using it.”

Sally’s work situation was addressed and she was able to return to work (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sally’s work situation was addressed and she was able to return to work (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I’m in a much happier place now, both in terms of my work environment and skin issues. My hope is to raise awareness because people might (be) dealing with similar skincare issues.

“If I can positively impact someone else’s life then it’s worth it.”

Dr Eva Melegh, a consultant dermatologist, said: “Rosacea is a skin condition that is caused by dilation of the blood vessels below the surface of the skin and can be triggered by periods of extreme emotional stress or trauma.”

Sally’s skin started to affect her socialising with friends (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sally’s skin started to affect her socialising with friends (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “Stress-related rosacea is common and can often come on suddenly and be quite severe.

“Rosacea is a chronic skin condition which once triggered stays with you for life.

“Flare-ups can be managed and reduced with regular and diligent preventative skin care as well as lifestyle changes such as reducing stress levels, keeping skin out of direct sunlight and always wearing an SPF and reducing alcohol intake.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said “Any allegation of bullying among officers or staff is very concerning and there are strong processes in place within the Met to support those who report such behaviour and hold those responsible to account.

“While the culture in the Met is vastly different than it was 30 years ago, and we have sought to improve over that time, we still recognise there is work to be done.

“We have recently launched a hard-hitting internal standards campaign to remind officers and staff of their responsibilities and to encourage colleagues to report any concerns or wrongdoing.

“We are making it clear that there is no place in the Met for anyone who is a bully, or displays discriminatory behaviour, and we will take action against those who act in this way.”