By: Lucille McClinn
It began in sixth grade, starting out as a small bunch of blackheads on my chin. I didn’t even know what blackheads were at that time. Now, at the age of 18, I have a multitude of scars, a very mild amount of black heads, and only two active pimples. This is considered good for my acne. I remember back to 7th grade when my acne took a sharp turn for the worse. I had whiteheads and cystic bumps spread around my forehead, upper lip, chin, and right cheek and jawline. From there, it only got worse, yet I ignored it. I seldom washed my face and constantly ate greasy, sugary food that only amplified my acne. And the picking! I could not stop touching, popping, and clawing at my face, and now I’m paying dearly for it. At that point I had stopped looking in the mirror, I frantically avoided being in pictures, and my self-esteem was at an all-time low. I was seriously depressed for a child, but my parents kept telling me it would all go away in couple of months, and it was nothing to worry about.
In ninth grade my grandparents insisted I see a dermatologist and promised to pay for any appointments I needed (my family was quite poor and could never afford a dermatologist). I was elatedly grateful for the offer, but reluctant, in fear that it meant I had hit rock bottom, but my parents urged me, and I finally went. The dermatologist seemed reassuring and optimistic about my case from the moment I met her. She examined my face and asked me about the concerns of my mother and me. By the end of the appointment, she had given me a routine to follow: Cerave foaming wash in the morning, followed by a thin layer of clindamycin gel, 8% benzoyl peroxide at night, tretinoin cream, completed with Cerave moisturizing lotion. She grimly promised that me that my skin would get worse before it got better, but I was so eager to try the routine that I dismissed her warning. I followed the doctor’s routines for two weeks, naively hoping that my acne would be cured in a matter of time.
However, after I saw no results, I started washing infrequently. Maybe three times a week. My face had gotten poorer. It was inflamed, dry, painful, and there was break out after breakout. At my next dermatologist appointment three months later, I lied to the doctor, telling her I had used the products at the correct times. She said my skin had slightly improved, but not well enough. To progress the healing of my skin, she prescribed me three months of Minocycline (an antibiotic) to take along with the same skin care routine. I took the antibiotics when I was supposed to, but still didn’t wash my face every day. I had given up hope too early, and decided washing my face wasn’t going to solve anything. At my next appointment, she said my skin got much better and that I didn’t need to see her for a year. I didn’t believe her because I still saw a mess on my face. I never went back.
After a year, I was back where I had started. I was depressed and didn’t want to face the problem of my acne. Finally, I decided I needed to at least try, and chose to go on a more natural path. I started washing my face every day with baking soda, tea tree oil, and a lemon juice and honey mask. I tried to keep this up as long as I could, and as frequent as I could. But when I saw little results after about three weeks, I stopped. I begged my parents to get me Accutane with no luck. I was, yet again, lost. Until I started doing loads of research on acne. How it was caused, what I needed to do, and what won’t work. I learned that what I ate was a large part of my acne. I started to watch what I ate and controlled my stress better by exercising and doing yoga. It went a long way. My breakouts were less inflamed and my skin wasn’t as dry. I had bought the Olay Fresh Effects acne treatment kit, but after a month of using it, it wasn’t any good. But something else was brought to my attention during researching acne. In order for an acne treatment to produce results, it must be used for 3-4 months. I figured out I needed to establish a skin care routine and get on track to make myself happy.
Currently, one month and half into my routine (and multiple lifestyle changes), my skin is better than ever, but still not cured. I am working on addressing my scars and decreasing the amount of breakouts. Acne is a long journey for everyone that has it, but one thing I suggest is to always stay optimistic and stick with your own routine. With years of having acne, I know my skin like the back of my hand and know what breaks it out. I am still on the journey, but will continue to work towards my goal of clear skin.