Hello everyone. Hope you all had a great week, and are looking forward to the weekend. I know I am!
I wanted to write a bit about skin conditions and my experience of having severe painful cystic lumps appear all over my face in my mid twenties. Most people associate spots / acne / cysts and other issues with the skin a teenage thing, where all your hormones are changing and thats why. Well, as true as that is there is also something called ‘adult acne’. Adult acne is where you’re in your mid 20’s/30’s/40’s and even 50’s. It can be horrifically painful and come on due to menopause / stress or other things in life that affect skin.
I want this blog post to explain some of the myths of why people get acne / skin conditions and what does and doesn’t help (me). I have really struggled with this and there have been days I have just cried and not wanted to go outside due to the redness and pain, and it’s genuinely stopped me from doing a lot socially, which if you know me is not good!
I have kept my skin condition a really big secret because it is so embarrassing and I am often told how pretty and confident I am by friends family and new people I meet, so it’s not something I really want to inhibit that or be teased about.
Before this started I had perfectly clear skin. This is a photo of me (right) and my lovely flatmate Giulia. I have my hair tied back completely and no powder or coverup on my skin. Just eye and lip makeup.
This is a huge thing for me to do and an image that I have only shown to my parents and best friend Connie. The reason for that is peoples reactions and behaviour towards me for having bad skin. It is beyond hurtful and has at times caused me to have quite bad anxiety about it all.This image was taken a few months ago before I started taking Roaccutane. It wasn’t the worst point of my time having these horrible cystic lumps appear all over my face as since then I had them completely take over both lower sides of my face causing real pain and cutting into my lips and eyes. This spread to my chest and back causing some of the most painful and ugly looking spots I have ever had!
I really want people reading this to A) realise that you are not alone! It isn’t fair to feel stereotyped or bad about your skin and what is happening! You are probably more hygienic and kinder than a lot of people who have never this happen as you will be understanding and sympathetic to those around you. B) We are not unclean. I was my face three times a day and use antiseptic moisturising cream as well as a very strong hydrating one! I eat extremely healthily (except the occasional cake), and I get enough sleep.
Myths about acne
It’s caused by eating badly: Yes, whilst it’s true that eating Mc’Donald’s all day every day isn’t good for your skin, it also isn’t good for the rest of your body! There is a high fat / salt content within it, but the occasional one now and again is not going to give you a huge outbreak of acne. If you eat properly, a yummy breakfast of cocopops / muesli or toast with tea / coffee… lunch, a baguette or soup and dinner spaghetti bolognese wit the occasional fruit / crisps throughout the day you are certainly not going to get serve acne from this.
Makeup causes spots: If you are using the right products and cleaning your brushes and sponges regularly there is no reason why makeup would cause acne / spots. In many cases it has been found to significantly improve the appearance of spots (not just by covering them) by helping protect the skin from toxins in the air and in some cases by the product itself as a lot of good makeup contains zinc oxide. It is also a great idea to apply sunscreen before your makeup as the SPF 15 that is in the foundation is pretty much useless and will not really do anything as we don’t apply enough of it to work. I’d recommend you look at using cruelty free products. I would recommend looking at: Neals Yard as they have some fantastic products and they’re created to be friendly to the skin too!
Toothpaste can help spots: Toothpaste is a pretty big myth that it helps spots. Whilst it has drying agents in it such as menthol and baking soda, it isn’t going to kill off an infection but dry out the top layer of skin which can cause other issues such as reactions and burning. I hold my hands up as I have tried this myself! I ended up with a really dried out painful spot that caused me some serious itching issues and I have not used it again since. Toothpaste is for our teeth which are a type of bone, not fleshy and soft like our skin. If you want to use something to put on your spots try looking for benzoyl peroxide if you have severe issues with pimples / acne, and if it is the odd spot here and there I would recommend you look at something organic and ethical such as a tea tree stick.
You need more sunlight: Actually no I need less. The sun is known to burn the skin and harmful UV rays penetrate it causing some really sore patches and issues with redness and scaring. My skin produces enough oils and I mean enough without the sun making me sweat more. I’ve noticed the more time I spend in the sun the more painful my skin gets on my face and neck. My legs on the other hand end up looking amazing, but the issues I have aren’t on my legs, so I often end up with a towel or jacket over my face or walk about with one of those pompous huge hats to hide my skin. You’re unhygienic, wash more: It’s probably really bad of me, but when someone says this I just want to punch them right in the face and say ‘you’re an arsehole, keep quiet more’. I was SO much and ensure that my skin is always clean. My dermatologist has told me I am doing the best job possible with my skin regimes and to keep them up. My nails are spotless, my hair is always clean and styled (i.e. I brush it and let it go curly) and I wear clean clothes every single day! I even change my bedsheets every 5 days and use a different pillowcase every night to ensure that I am not self-contaminating with my acne. This is perhaps one of the most infuriating things to hear from someone else who doesn’t understand what you are going through.
Stress doesn’t cause acne: Wrong. It actually does. I found that having a lot of traumatic things go on in my life such as: my baby brother (he’s 23) having a brain tumour, my dad this last week having half his intestines removed due to cancer… Watching my grandparents die in pretty unfair ways, whilst trying to complete my masters degree / find a career I love and move to London all at the same time! It is potentially a real cause of my skin flaring up and the fact that stress causes an imbalance of hormones in the body can result in acne! That then is a really nasty spiral as it is constantly going round and round as you become stressed out about your skin which can in a lot of cases (females 20-50 years of age) cause anxiety and depression! I would say the best way to combat is to find something you love doing and do it… I love spending time with animals, blogging and meditating with my colouring books (adult colouring books).
So, I think its fair to say that if you really need to go on some strong medication like me to get rid of your acne then do it. Roaccutane is not to be taken lightly as you won’t be able to get pregnant for a month prior too, during and a month after treatment. Treatment can last up to two years in severe cases, but mine will be (hopefully) only six – eight months. It also causes joint pain, tiredness and extremely dry skin. But I have to say it has completely been worth it the last two months as my skin as started to settle down finally and I am noticing less spots flaring up!
Good luck to everyone going through a similar thing and please remember you are not alone! You can fight it and you will heal your skin in no time! 🙂