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Friday, 14 July 2017

Life With Acne


Having a skin condition is irritating in every sense of the word. They're often sore, itchy and hard to get rid of. What happens when that skin condition is on your face, though? Your face is covered in painful cysts that are impossible to hide and take ages to shrink. When they finally do shrink they're never truly gone and you're presented with a dark blemish that makes it look like it's still there. Going to bed and waking up everyday is a demoralising experience. After slathering different topical creams on, praying that this is the thing that will work, you wake up the next day to find more cysts have appeared or you've irritated the ones you've already got and you've made them angry. Angry acne is not fun. I've been brought to tears by the pain of it and also how it looks. You feel ugly all the time. You feel like people are only staring at your acne and you're super aware of their eyes flitting down to it when they're talking to you. It starts to feel like your acne defines you.

I've had cystic acne that flares up and down since I was about sixteen/seventeen. As my peers were starting to suffer from bouts of acne during when we hit puberty, I was blessed with clear skin. I didn't need to worry or even think about my skin. It was when everyone else's hormonal symptoms started to calm that my face seemed to explode over night.

I tried over-the-counter products, steroid creams, antibiotics, the contraceptive pill, coming off the contraceptive pill, stronger antibiotics, more steroid creams until I finally accepted that nothing would work.

My acne is strange. Sometimes I can cover the blemishes and no one would know I had it. Sometimes my chin area is so inflamed that there's no way I could ever consider hiding the bumps. Sometimes the sun and sea salt on holiday works its magic and it disappears for a few weeks. Sometimes I get stressed and that stress seems to bubble up (literally) and parade itself on my face worse than ever.

I've had years to know what works and what doesn't, what makes it inflamed but one thing I haven't been able to figure out is how to get rid of it for good. My acne is manageable at times but other times, it is completely out of control. I have started to see a pattern, though, and for me, it seems to be stress related. 

Having a condition so obvious as acne that rears it's ugly head the most when you're stressed is one of the most frustrating and soul destroying things. I'm already stressed so seeing my face explode into acne only makes me more stressed and so the cycle begins.

Right now, I'm at a place where I'm deciding whether to go on the drug Accutane or Roaccutane or muddle along life with it as I've always done. How the drug works is it basically dries your body from the inside so, in most cases, this dries the acne out. It's only given to the most severe or persistent cases and it's well known for its (sometimes) drastic side effects but amazing results.

Honestly, the side effects scare the hell out of me. I already have dry skin and suffer from eczema so it's a given that I will be covered in dry skin and eczema whilst on it. Many people have reported severely cracked lips that you just can't get rid of. You can't drink alcohol as the drug works in your liver and mixed together it can attack your liver extremely dangerously. If you happen to fall pregnant, there's an 100% chance your baby will be disabled so you have to take a pregnancy test at the Drs every month. You have to be on double contraception. You have to go for blood tests and check ups at least once a month. You can't be in the sun light for too long but, most scary of all, you can develop mental health problems such as depression.

You're probably thinking, why on earth would you go on this drug?! I just think that shows how hard acne can be to live with. I'm in the dilemma of a deal with a few dodgy side effects for 6 months or possibly deal with acne for the rest of your life. I have my consultation in August and I'm glad I have a bit longer to decide. It's a massive decision and one that could essentially change my life. 

If I do decide to go on it, I plan to keep a diary/video diary about my side effects as I've found watching and reading other people's experiences so helpful. I would also love to hear if anyone else has been on it/thinking about going on it/or has any experiences with acne that they would like to share!

In the meantime, I'll keep you all updated on what I decide and I hope this has helped or resonated with at least one other person as I know acne is such a common yet still slightly misunderstood condition to have!
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