It stands out in my face. It’s one of the first things that obsesses me every morning when I look at myself in the bathroom mirror. Even with my mask up, I’m still embarrassed and ashamed of what’s hiding underneath. I stay in bed some nights wondering what it takes to have clear skin: a magic pill? A wish granted by a genius? Despite its frequency, I can’t help but feel alone in my fight.
I’m talking about acne, of course, something all teenagers dread. The skin condition is simply known as “clogged pores” and is felt by almost everyone. 85% of all adolescents. As I said, it’s common, it’s not out of the ordinary, and it’s true that the stigma around it fell. Yet the stigma remains for those like me, whose condition is so much more than “clogged pores.” This is why, despite how caring and understanding others may be, they will never have a true understanding of the struggles that come with the fight against severe acne.
Even adults seem to miss the point. After explaining my skin journey online, a dermatologist sent me a message saying he did not agree with my dermatologist’s diagnosis and that his skin had improved over time, so mine too. . As humans, we tend to judge things beyond our control. It may be due to insecurity, fear, or arrogance, but most of our judgmental nature comes from confusion. Since not everyone has acne, the levels of understanding and knowledge around them differ from person to person. Empathy and comments lose their meaning because of this, which is why we need to better understand acne and its subtypes.
Acne can be caused by genetics, sweat, stress, facial products, and much more. It is rarely seen as something abnormal. After battling acne for almost six years now, I have realized that some causes of acne are beyond the skin. Because I am so young, my acne has always been treated thinking it was caused by oils or hormonal fluctuations. After seeing a new dermatologist, I learned that I had acne in adult women, caused by Hormonal imbalance.
Of course, hearing that my acne was more severe, as it might have something to do with my hormone levels, upset and embarrassed me. Although completely out of my control, I still blamed myself that my skin was horrible. I was even more embarrassed to admit it to others.
Even though it’s all acne, I knew it would be frustrating trying to explain why my acne is like this. After all, I was already on trial for the pimple spots on my face, would I be criticized even more if others knew I couldn’t control it?
My dermatologist told me that she couldn’t make my acne go away, but she could do it so that my acne was no longer a problem. As disappointing as it may sound to some, I was happy that she was honest about my skin and feeling more optimistic about the future. Knowing that this was something I had to learn to love, accept and live with forever helped me cope and take better care of my skin. It was a big step for me, and one that everyone should take: there are parts of us that are immutable and irreversible, but which are always part of what makes us unique.
With the disappearance of the stigma of acne, education must also be strengthened. Acne shouldn’t be seen as a ‘teenage problem’, it should be understood as something different for everyone. Teens need to feel informed and confident in explaining their skin to others. Although acne is not considered serious for others, its importance in my life is why I am so adamant and determined to raise awareness.