Acne; how it can effect mental health, and how social media can make it worse.
Like most other people, when I hit puberty, I discovered the horror of getting spots. However, it wasn’t until my late teens that I started to develop acne around my chin (the kind that not even Sudacrem will solve). To any of you that follow me on Instagram, this may come as a bit of a shock, as I don’t particularly portray it in my photos. Instead, I choose to show only the pictures where the light is flattering, or I have that much make up on and that much distance between me and the camera that my blemishes are barely visible.
There is a part of me that feels guilty and slightly fake for hiding my spots on social media. However, the portrayal (or lack of) of acne in the media doesn’t exactly encourage people like me to put it out there, or make me proud of the way my skin is. Despite the celebration of different body sizes, shapes, scars, hair and irregularities, there is no acknowledgement that not everyone has the same flawless skin. If a woman’s body is edited to look thinner, it causes chaos. However, when a models skin is airbrushed so that there isn’t a single mark, nobody bats an eyelid. Not only is this common procedure for magazines and websites, but more and more social media ‘influencers’ are displaying unrealistically blemish free pictures, implementing unrealistic beauty standards for others and making them feel isolated with their skin problems. Partly due to this pressure from the media, having acne can have a great influence not only on someone’s mood, but also their behavior, something that greatly affected me over the past few years.
As my spots became more and more prominent, I became more and more self-conscious, and less confident talking to others. I would be worried about what people would think, and what they were focusing on when I was talking to them. I often avoid standing close to people I am talking to so that they can’t see my skin up close, and sometimes even avoid seeing people at all if I can help it. No matter whether I’m going on a night out, or just nipping to the shop to get milk, I will cover my skin with the same thick layer of foundation and concealer. As silly as it may sound, there have been days where I have not left the house because of it, and even some tearful moments when I have felt utterly fed up.
Of course, I became pretty sick and tired of feeling this way and after around a year of no hope with every and all over the counter spot treatments, I decided to go and see my GP. Over the past three years I have tried several types of medicinal creams, two different types of antibiotics and many other shop bought ‘solutions’, none of which have yet worked. At the end of every treatment I am left with the same devastation that it hasn’t worked, and the same red spots on my chin. However, some have provided more relief than others, and each have come with their own side effects. Through managing my skin for a long period of time, I have also found the things that improve or worsen my acne, all of which I will review on my blog.
Over the next week or so, I will review each spot treatment that I have ever tried with an aim to provide information to others who may be experiencing similar problems. I will try and cover as much detail as I can remember, including any side effects they came with and how effective they were overall at improving my skin, so prevent others from wasting their time (and money!) on countless products and prescriptions.
Of course, everybody’s skin is different so what has or hasn’t worked for me, may not have the same effect on others. But I hope that even if this doesn’t help anyone find a solution to their skin problems, it helps them see that not everybody has clear skin, and that what you see on social media should be taken with a pinch (or a bucket) of salt!