After four months of trying to hide her skin problems, Frances Wang decided to share her story on Instagram

By Julie Mazziotta
September 30, 2019 11:16 AM
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Courtesy Frances Wang

When CBS anchor Frances Wang got a job at the Miami station, she was excited to leave her native California and try something new. She also hoped the Florida humidity would clear up the slight eczema that she’s had on and off for years.

But after a few months in Miami, Wang’s eczema continued to crop up in dry, itchy patches on her face. She would cover them up at work with makeup before she went on-air, but each night she was back to itching, and would “wake up bleeding.”

“On air, it wasn’t that huge of an issue. It was just more personally frustrating and painful,” Wang tells PEOPLE.

That led her to seek out a dermatologist, who prescribed Wang a topical steroid cream — and everything went downhill from there. Her eczema stuck around, and the steroids made her skin break out in painful, persistent acne. And soon after, Wang — who didn’t realize there were steroids in the skin cream — was later prescribed more steroids after getting sick one day.

“My face blew up,” she says. “It looked like a giant rash, like I had a crazy allergic reaction with acne on top of it.”

Wang spent months trying to hide her skin problems from the CBS Miami viewers and her coworkers, feeling guilt and shame for her face.

“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 says. “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.”

Frances Wang
Courtesy Frances Wang

Plus, Wang didn’t feel like her problem was important enough to share.

“There’s people going through so much worse and I’m a hundred percent cognizant of that, especially covering the news. We cover some really devastating tragedies and trauma for a lot of people. So I think there was a guilt and shame that I felt for a long time even being so upset about my skin,” she says.

But Wang was in serious pain. Because the acne was around her mouth — doctors said she has perioral dermatitis, a rash around the mouth that typically starts after using topical steroid creams, as Wang did — it hurt to talk or eat. “My two favorite things,” she jokes.

Frances Wang

After four months of trying to hide her skin problems, Wang decided to share her story on Instagram.

“I felt emotionally exhausted trying to hide it,” she says. “I was getting messages from viewers — most of them were just concerned, but I got a few mean ones.”

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Wang is still struggling with her skin — the acne has cleared up slightly around her mouth, but it’s since spread to her forehead. She’s been prescribed at least ten different types of skin medication and over six antibiotics with little luck, and is now trying a more natural approach by eliminating dairy and high-fat foods from her diet. She also goes makeup-free as much as possible, and is going to take time off from work.

“At this point, honestly, I can’t go on air,” she says. “I don’t feel comfortable looking at my face. I’m very self-conscious about it. But my boss was the one who helped me really understand and realize that this is a medical issue.”

But overall, Wang is happy and relieved that she opened up about her skin troubles.

“I felt like it would send a more powerful message if I shared it while I was going through it, and it connected me with all these other people who are going through it currently and people who have already been through it,” she says. “I feel like I’m doing something for others.”