I'm new around here but I already feel the benefits of reading startlingly familiar stories and anecdotes of other sufferers.
I called in sick at work today. Its one of those 'no amount of make-up will conceal these ugly lumps and bumps' kind of days. Office lighting is so unforgiving, and I interact closely with my colleagues. Today I just can't handle the way their eyes keep flitting from my eyes to my spotty chin. It doesn't help that everyone else in the office has flawless skin. I'm the only female there, which unfortunately increases the pressure for me to look and feel decent and presentable. I hate to admit that, because I know that my performance should be far more important than the way my skin looks while working. On my hour lunch break, I spend half of it eating and shyly chatting with my colleagues, and the other half hiding in the toilet cubicle reapplying make-up which up until then looks cakey, flakey and very obviously present on my skin. I wish I cared less, but I don't.
I've been using Quinoderm BP 10% cream once or twice a day for nearly 3 months, moisturising with Neutrogena AHA lotion and jojoba oil, taking Evening Primrose and Cod Liver oil capsules, multivitamins, with plenty of vegetables and fish in my diet. I'm not a absolute saint when it comes to my food, but I'm not a complete sinner either, everything in moderation, because sometimes you really do just feel like eating pizza, crisps, cake and drinking Coke. Well, I do anyway.
I do pop spots when they're ready, and ONLY when they're ready. I'm fully aware that popping spots actually spreads infection over and under the skin, resulting in exactly what you least want to see the next day: more spots. But I find that just giving a whitehead a little extra help to drain really does speed up the healing process of it, provided you keep the scab and surrounding skin free of bacteria and irritation. What's worse? A pus filled spot or a scab with possibly more spots forming nearby? You decide...
My acne is not severe, despite how severely I let it effect my life, it is not severe in its condition. I've seen pictures and read heartbreaking stories from people with truly severe and painful cystic acne, and I tell myself to be grateful. My brother had severe acne all through his teens and early 20's. We're not so close but I know he really suffered. I think he took a course of accutane or roccutane.Now his skin is as clear as morning dew, with some scars of course but no active spots. My Mother had problems with her skin also, which proves there's a genetic link here. My Father, never had skin issues, and is more whom I take after, which is why my skin is not as bad as my Mother's and brother's but not as good as my Father's. At least there's some good skin genes in the mix somewhere....
So my acne isn't severe, but I have small non-inflamed whiteheads (closed comedones) dotted across my cheeks, forehead and chin - especially concentrated in the areas beneath the corners of my mouth. I also get papules, pustules and painful nodules, mainly around my chin and jawline, occasionally on my cheeks, and very occasionally around my nose, forehead and neck.
I admitted to myself only recently that I actually had acne. I was in denial. Acne is for teenagers, I thought (in my ignorance), teenagers who are experiencing exam stress, choppy relationships and raging pubescent hormones. I'm 28 with a fairly relaxed lifestyle, a loving stable relationship and yet I have a face dotted with spots, more spots than I've ever had in my life. Why now? My diet is decent, my skincare routine is careful and I'm very dedicated to it. I NEVER touch my face during the day and my boyfriend knows not to touch it either. I use clean towels and remove my makeup every night. Yes, I do wear makeup, but only to cover my spots, otherwise I would dearly LOVE to proudly step out of the house with clear skin and but a few strokes of mascara on my lashes! Now I wouldn't dream of being seen without concealer. I'm a slave to my makeup, and I resent fuelling the cosmetic industry but I'm too self conscious to bare my flawed skin to the world. I've been careful to select products which don't clog pores and contain active anti-blemish ingredients such as Salicylic Acid (eg. Almay Foundation).
So what's going on? Why is my skin unhappy? It could be a whole range of things, things which I'm yet to avoid by process of elimination. But I have a sneaky suspicion my hormones are to blame. My periods have always been fairly regular and painless. A few mild pre-menstrual headaches, tender breasts etc. but I've never been at all bothered by my cycles. Maybe my body is changing, maybe something has been happening to my hormones recently. Interestingly, when I cast my mind back, my skin started getting particularly worse when I met my boyfriend. I sometimes think his facial hair may irritate my skin, causing breakouts around my mouth and cheeks but we've been kissing carefully, stupid as that sounds.
My mother is a medical herbalist, and I only recently told her of my plight for clear skin. Of course, she could sympathise and she gave me a bottle of Vitex to take every morning after breakfast. Today was day 1 of that course, fingers crossed that I see some results after a few months. Taking birth control pills, such as Diane, has crossed my mind of late, but I would really rather not go there. It would be a last resort, I just don't feel comfortable with the idea.
Pleased to meet you all. Let's beat this nightmare together by sharing and caring