At first, I just thought it was a normal spot. But the throbbing pain and the fact that these lumps stayed on my face for weeks if not months instead of disappearing after a few days soon made me realise that something new was happening. I had no idea what acne was. I thought it happened to unlucky adolescents or to people who didn’t care what they ate or who slept in their make-up. How could this be happening to me?
I was in my mid thirties. Up until that point, apart from small flare ups once a month, I felt pretty happy with my skin. Sure it could get greasy, but on the whole, it wasn’t too problematic. I knew how to handle spots. I knew that sugar and highly salted snacks usually resulted in a small break out, but it was controllable. These spots were different. Nothing seemed to work! Every morning became a minor trauma as it revealed new spots or cysts. It took me by surprise and it totally robbed me of my self confidence for months. In my panic, these were some of the things I tried:
- Skincare. My first thought was to buy better, aka more expensive, skincare. If it costs loads of money, then it must be better, right?
- Diet. I gave up caffeine, drank smoothies, drank more water, ate more fruit and veg. But to be honest my diet wasn’t that bad to begin with.
- Doctor. I went to see my GP, but my doctor looked ill and overworked and I had the feeling that an outbreak of acne wasn’t really on his list of priorities… He did give me a prescription for a cream or gel.
- Acupuncture. I was walking past a Chinese medicine shop and I don’t know what prompted me to go in, but I did and ended up booking a series of acupuncture.
But nothing had much effect. So why bother to write a blog post on this? I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only woman in her thirties who – out of the blue – has found herself with acne. So if this is you, although I can’t point out a miracle remedy, I really hope something here will encourage or help you.
- Don’t panic. It will pass. My acne phase lasted several months, it did very gradually come to a natural end. I’m still not absolutely sure what caused my acne, but I suspect it was stress.
- Go out. I really didn’t want to go out at all during the months that I had that painful acne. I wasn’t married then, and I lived alone so it was quite easy to stay at home apart from going to work. But when I did go out, beyond embarrassed by these painful lumps on my face, it always surprised me that other people really didn’t seem to notice.
- Save your money. It’s tempting to throw money at a solution, for example special skincare regimes, facials, supplements… They didn’t work for me.
I had a small flare up recently. It honestly doesn’t worry me any more (OK, it does worry me – but not too much.) My husband gives me his bottle of Stiemycin, which I pat onto the affected area. He has had mild acne all through his life (he says he has – but I can honestly say I’ve never noticed any) and he says this stuff helps. Without wanting to belittle the pain and embarrassment a skin condition can bring, let me reassure you that you are so much more than it. Acne is a tiny part of your appearance. And you are so much more than just your appearance.