Living With Acne

What’s it like when your spots don’t go away? Simi Gupta explains what it was like to suffer from acne as a teenager and how she eventually cleared it up

Posted: 21.05.14

If you are one of the lucky ones who strode their way through high school without a single spot in sight, then let me allow myself to congratulate you on this magnificent success. If you did go through the torment of teenage acne, then consider yourself survivor.

As a sufferer from acne from the age of 11 to 21 years of age, I can evidently say that acne became my best friend. After countless of visits to the hospital for appointments, hoping that each prescribed antibiotic, would kill the acne, some antibiotics actually gave me some success. In fact, some made me believe that my acne had gone forever. I even went to the local drug store to see what they had on the shelves for acne. I went through products such as Clearasil, Clean and Clear and Oxy gels to see if they would do the trick. However, with my luck, the acne came back. Now at the age of 22 years, I am acne free. If you are wondering on how it all disappeared, there is a simple answer to this, I finally found a medication that worked for me.

The solution was called Roaccutane. I was advised to go on this medication from a dermatologist, who instructed me to take one tablet a day for a period of six months. Commonly known, generically, as ‘isotretinoin’, it works by suppressing the activity of sebaceous glands in the skin. This prevents the amount of oil being produced leading to the formations of spots. Medical experts such as leading dermatologist and senior lecturer at Imperial College London, Professor Chu, praises the drug by stating that, ‘Roaccutane is a brilliant drug that can change the lives of people with severe acne’. Saying so, embarking on the Roaccutane treatment was not an easy decision for me. I had no choice and, with reluctance, I had to give in and take on the acne treatment immediately. It was my only hope, my last straw in defeating acne. I remember it, as if I was acting in a dramatic movie, giving the drug a final glance before putting it in my mouth, and letting its magic commence within my body.

If you are in a similar boat and considering starting Roaccutane treatment, I would advise you to do your research properly. The most common form of side effects, to which I definitely experienced, was dryness and crackling of the lips. Also, if you’re a fitness nut like I am, you’ll probably get the odd muscle pain. So ensure that you moisturise your lips daily, and take it easy at the gym. Although rare, the most severe form that you could experience is arthritis and lung problems.

The one factor that doctors will alert you on is its link to depression. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, stop the medication immediately. Baring in mind, although the drug can be hugely frowned upon, everyone reacts to the drug differently. As Professor Chu states again, ‘Some patients sail through with no problems but serious side effects, though, rare do occur and are seriously long-term.’

I lived my whole teenage life with acne, it become a part of me and got to the point where I got used to it. However, now that it is gone, I can see how it had affected me. I was never the ‘cool kid’ at school, but I wouldn’t classify myself as a geek either. I did get bullied, and I got the odd stare. I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up to cover it up, and I was perfectly fine with that. That was how life was like with me. My acne went through many stages. Sometimes my face would look horrendous, and sometimes it didn’t. Needless to say, it was there. Now looking back, I didn’t see my natural beauty. I could say that I didn’t really know who I was or what I looked like. What helped me was that I had a group of friends who were kind at heart. I can definitely say that it is beneficial to have a friendly support system.

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