This year I will be turning 27 - Sad to say because up until today I am still struggling with Acne, but a different kind of Acne, not the puberty ones. Probably adult Acne, I am not sure - to be honest, since I do not have a degree in medicine. But the Acne that I have now is definitely worst than the puberty ones. In addition to this, I am single, no boyfriends, I do not have kids, because this Acne gives me no confidence in socializing or dating anyone anymore.
And when you are 27 and from Asian origin, some of you might know what this means: 'Sheng Nu', Aka 'Leftover woman'.
I started having Acne when I was 12 years old, I only had Acne on my forehead and mainly big ones - as the years went by, my Acne got worst - it was one over the other one, making it ugly and taking longer to disappear as it was inflaming one and then next it would inflame the one above it - And then the Acne pimple would become white, full of pus. I would do my best not to squeeze them and wait until they became yellow. But 'HELLO' I am a girl, I never wanted to have a white pimple and show up at school, like nothing was on my face. The worst place where I had those pimples was between my eyebrow, now imagine 3 pimples above each other, huge ones in white between your eyebrows, how ugly is this!
My parents did not want me to go to the dermatologist as it was a waste of money. So I ended up just washing my face with products you could buy at a pharmacist or at a drug store. I started with simple beauty products, this included the 3 steps system of Clinique: soap, tonic lotion and then the moisturizer. This was not helping so I went on buying Vichy products for Acne. I put cucumber, clay, watermelon skin, apple pieces, you name it...
When I was small, my parents always told me that if I ate lots of fruits, vegetables and ate healthy that I would not have Acne like my father [In brief: my father always has had Acne and up until today, every time he eats spicy things he would get some here and there on the face, nowadays he has got scars on the cheeks]. I did everything my parents told me to do: stop eating fried stuff, not eat chocolates etc. but my puberty Acne kept messing up with my forehead.
It went on for 3 years, people at school would laugh at me and call me horrible names. It was really depressing. Up until the day, my cousin started going to a dermatologists which gave him meds to eat and his face got much better. He is now actually studying medicine to become a dermatologist himself. The waiting line for this dermatologists was 3 months, so we did like everybody else and waited for our turn.
I remember the expression of the doctor, the first time he saw me. He asked my mum why I did not come earlier and my mother could not really answer him, she did not want to say that it was 'we believed that her face was going to get better'. All that the doctor could see was a bumpy forehead full of huge pus Acne.
He started giving antibiotics and creams to me, he asked if anybody in the family had Acne and we said only the fathers side had Acne. I do not know the names but it was an antibiotic made by the pharmacist. I had for the face Avene products. I had a special alcohol to disinfect the forehead and I had a soap for the face. And I had to come back every 3 months to see him.
Thanks to him my Acne got better, I had luckily no scars left on the forehead, but I kept on going for the next 3 years every three months, until the day I graduated from high school.
Of course I did not stay with one type of antibiotics during those 3 years, I probably changed from soap brands and meds every year because according to this doctor, the body gets immune to a certain type of medicine, therefore changing was necessary.
Since my Acne had gotten better, we decided to only go twice a year. But as I was entering university, my Acne started again, maybe due to stress and not enough sleep and bad food habit. But this Acne was this time attacking my cheeks and my nose, which between the age of 12 and 18, I never had. So we went again to the same dermatologist, but it was more difficult as I was already at university (I studied in the Netherlands and my dermatologist was in Belgium), I only booked to see him, every time I was on holiday. It got to a point, where I had to start taking Roaccutane (I think that in the US, it is called Accutane and it is actually banned due to the side effects).
And of course when you take Roaccutane, you need to take the pill, of course again my parents were against that, but I had no choice, the doctor said that as my cheeks were getting worst than normal and that I was going on internship in the US and would not be able to come and see him as I needed to, Roaccutane was the best choice. I remember that I had to take blood tests every few months, while taking this med, my lips, my skin were peeling like hell.
At some point during winter time, my nose started bleeding and all, all this due to Roaccutane. I probably took Roaccutane during 1 year and half, which is well above the average period for taking this med.
In my opinion, Roaccutane is the last measure you should be taking, because it has side effect on the long run too.
But when I turned 22, the Acne suddenly stopped, by this time I had stopped Roaccutane and I kept using the pill. Therefore I think that the pill helped a lot in easing my struggle with Acne. But I stopped with the pill, which at that time I did not know, you could not be 'on' and 'off' the pill.
While I was turning 24 and I had finished studying my bachelor degree in hotel management. I decided to move to Hong Kong to try out life there, since I could not find a job in Belgium. This was probably the biggest mistake of all. In the beginning my skin was fine. But after I went to Korea for holiday, I started having pimples on the neck and were talking about huge ones, like when I was 12 on my forehead.
It was probably something that I ate in Korea that created the chain of reaction on my Acne, starting with the neck and going up my jaws and cheeks, almost the whole face, except for the forehead and the nose.
Due the fact that I was working at the reception in Hong Kong, I had to put make up every day and I had no choice on that. Of course this made it worst. My aunt asked me to try her beautician which I did, I paid 1000Euro for 10 sessions. Again this made it worst because she was piercing the pimples one by one and it would create holes in my skin but at the same time it would create no new outbreaks. I was definitely in a dilemma, with whether to continue and see this beautician, as she, in a way helped my skin but on the long run was making it worst. In the end, I decided to stop going to her and managed to get products in exchange, as a refund was impossible.
I went then to a dermatologist in Hong Kong, the doctor itself cost me 300Euro (we are talking here that it was almost 1/4 of my salary as I was not earning a lot). The doctor told me that it was due to my lack of sleep, due to make up, due to the pollution in the air, from the cars etc. He told me that if I wanted to have my face back that I would need to go back to Europe, where the air is cleaner.
I was stubborn enough then, I told him that I had not yet done my two years in Asia and therefore I need it to survive, he told me that you have one other choice, you can also do the laser, which for me was a big 'NO, NO'. He said you probably had in the past all types of Meds which by now will not work anymore on your body.
Since I was not able to afford this kind of doctor for a few more times, I decided to take big measures, I started eating only congee and steamed veggies for the next 6 to 8 months. I did not go out anymore. And as I was starting overnight shift as a receptionist, I decided to also only ask for overnight shift because then I would not have to wear make up. I know that overnight shift is bad for the body, but I could not help it, I would rather save my face than put tons of make up and block all the pores.
As you grow up, in life you have to choose one thing over the other. And I told myself that I would survive two years in Hong Kong. Therefore I made certain choices. While doing so I discovered apple cider vinegar, this really helped a lot. I drank it twice a day with some water. My skin definitely got better, I would not say perfect.
I am now back in Belgium, still doing receptionist but as a duty manager, and luckily I do not have to wear make up. My skin is still full of scars, especially on the cheeks. But I am now more positive on it then before. Everyday I tell myself, soon I will have a better skin and I would have a better job. By the way I am now back on the pill, the second generation ones.
The only thing I am not looking forward to is if I ever have children, would I get Acne again? (Because I have heard stories about it).