My Relationship With… Acne


“They’ll clear up as you get older!” is something I’ve heard pretty much since I was eleven or twelve about my spots. Now being nearly 22, I would probably consider myself, well, older… and they’re still here.

I’ve had a difficult and turbulent relationship with my spots since my teenage years. I used to rock a questionable bowl cut at the beginning of secondary school, which would leave my forehead greasy and sweaty throughout the day and led to spots. However, it also covered them too. It really was a vicious cycle that I could not get myself out of. When I finally decided to grow my fringe out aged 13, I became much more aware, almost obsessive, about the number of spots that covered my face. They quickly spread around my chin, my upper lip and my cheeks. It was so difficult to see my friends complain about the tiniest pimple which would appear, then disappear, overnight, when I seemed to have ten appearing.

Diet seems to be a conflicting topic surrounding acne, with some scientists claiming diet has little to no effect on spots whilst others claim a bite of a chocolate bar can result in what feels like 6 million spots emerging overnight. Over the years I’ve tried pretty much everything; I’ve attempted to cut out dairy, foods high in sugars and carbohydrates and fizzy drinks for months at a time. But, as you’ve probably guessed by now, it did not help. After trying out every little fad I could imagine, including smothering my face in Colgate overnight until my face was physically burning and the time I rubbed an incredibly overpriced tea tree oil all over my face and woke up resembling an actual tomato, I soon realised that it was probably best to seek professional help, rather than damage my skin any more than it already was.

I probably visited my doctor’s surgery more times when I was 12 and 13 than in the rest of my life combined. They prescribed me creams, antibiotics (one, which I can’t remember the name of, gave me a painful allergic reaction in my stomach for months) and I was even offered the Roaccutane treatment. During my consultation with the nurse, she warned me of the chronic dryness of the skin, painful rashes and even the pregnancy test I’d need to take every month. As a teenager who was already having a rough time with puberty anyway, despite the amount I loathed my acne, it seemed wise to avoid this treatment for the time being. This is not to say that it won’t work for anyone else, however.

When I was 21, I returned to my doctor (after the countless other times) and was offered Zineryt (known more commonly as Erythromycin) which kills the bacteria frequently associated with acne. It worked absolute wonders for my skin initially, and I wished I could stay on it forever, however we had to part ways after the 12 week treatment ended. My skin has never returned to how aggressive it was when I was a teenager and now, at the age of 22, I think I can finally say that I am at peace with my acne. It is true that a lot of my persistent spots have finally subsided, but I do still suffer with painful acne along my cheeks and especially around my mouth. For the first time in years however, I now feel confident enough to leave the house without any foundation on. If you’d have asked me to do that in the prime of my teenage years, I probably would have applied another four layers of foundation just to spite you. I don’t know when my light bulb moment was, but I now feel confident in my skin and am proud of my acne journey. On some days, my skin can look worse than others, but I take it each day as it comes. My attitude is much more flippant. So what if there are pimples on my chin? We’re human, we all get them.

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