When I was a teenager, my mom told me my skin would settle down when I hit my 20s. I started taking the Pill at 19 and for the next seven or so years my skin mostly cleared up, except for the usual PMS breakout.
When I reached 27, I decided I had enough of taking hormones (I was also convinced it had caused me to gain weight), so I stopped taking the Pill.
Of course, my skin went loopy and the breakouts returned. But with a vengeance – instead of just being spotty and red, I now develop large, painful cysts that sit deep beneath my skin.
Now that I’ve turned 30, my mom tells me after I have a baby my skin will settle down…
I’ve had my fair share of comments regarding my skin. Here are six things never to say to someone who has acne.
1. ‘You eat too many chocolates.’
This is something my dad often said. For many years, he was convinced I ate too many chocolates and that was the reason my skin was so bad. Fortunately my gran shut him up one day, explaining that it has nothing to do with chocolates and everything to do with hormones. In fact, according to a previous article on Health24, there is no proof that chocolate (or diet in general) will cause or worsen acne. However, if you do find that some foods aggravate your breakouts, it might be a good idea to avoid them.
2. ‘Have you tried…?’
Yes, I have pretty much tried everything – from The Pill and zinc tablets, to prescribed topical creams, acne face wash and even a three-month course of antibiotics. I had a stranger offer me advice recently – “Why don’t you try this cream that is available over the counter,” she said. “It worked for my daughter.” I was mortified that someone I didn’t know thought that it was appropriate to offer me advice. My last resort at this stage is Accutane, but because I’m not on the Pill it’s not an option as it can have horrific effects on a foetus.
3. ‘You should stop touching your face so much.’
Acne occurs when the sebaceous (oil-secreting) glands in your skin (and along hair shafts) become clogged and inflamed, and infected by bacteria. And that has nothing to do with touching your face. While frequently touching or picking your skin, can lead to scarring, it won’t necessarily cause acne.
4. ‘You’ll outgrow it.’
Thanks, mom! When I was 19, I clung to that thought. When I hit 25, I kept hoping there was still time to outgrow my bad skin. But now that I'm 30 I'm starting to lose hope. According to Dr Annie Chiu, Board-Certified Dermatologist with a private practice in Redondo Beach, CA, it’s a misconception to believe that acne is a “teenage thing”. And while we don’t outgrow it, the type of acne may change as you get older. She explains that women’s oestrogen levels start to decrease from their 30s, which can lead to hormonal acne in women.
5. ‘I can’t see a thing. You’re being over dramatic.’
Thanks for trying to make it less obvious, but to me it feels as though I have the biggest, reddest, most inflamed pimple on the tip of my nose and that is the first thing anyone sees when they look at me. In fact, it actually feels as though you’re looking the pimple and not me. Having bad skin can do a number on your self-confidence. If your eyes are the windows to your soul, then what is the rest of your face?
6. ‘Wearing makeup will just make it worse.’
Sometimes attempting to cover up bad skin and scars is the only way you can face the world. However, makeup alone won’t make acne worse. YouTuber and acne expert Cassandra Bankson told InStyle that there are a number of factors at play that could be aggravating, worsening or triggering acne. It’s possible that you could have a slight allergic reaction to one of the ingredients. It’s also important to remove your makeup as soon as you get home – never go to bed with makeup and make sure you clean it off properly.
Yes, acne can have psychological effects. If you know someone who suffers from acne, it’s best not to say anything about it. Chances are they are feeling incredibly self-conscious and if their acne is anything like mine, they're probably in pain.
While there is no cure for acne, effective treatment is available. I strongly advise talking to your doctor if your skin is affecting your self-confidence. The best advice I can offer is to speak to your doctor and find a treatment plan that works for you.
For everyone else? Keep your opinions to yourself!
Image credits: iStock