When I was a teenager, I didn't really have acne problems; the occasional spots here and there, yes, but they were manageable and I still looked fine without makeup. I thought my skin was resilient enough, so I experimented with different products and different facial treatments. Of course, I thought wrong and finally last year, I had a terrible experience with a skincare product. My skin broke out two to three days after the first application, but I still persisted. Why? Because I thought it was a clarifying thing - maybe the product was deep-cleansing my pores and that's why I had a break out? I couldn't be more wrong. Till today, I still regretted using the product for an entire week because the aftermath of the disaster can still be seen now.
I freaked out initially. Before using the product, I had at most 2 to 3 stubborn spots on my face, and these spots didn't hurt at all. One week after using it, the number of spots on my face just kept increasing. I even had acne on my cheek area (I have combination skin and my cheeks are very dry, so usually I don't get acne there). Concealers didn't work. Instead, concealers emphasised the presence of my acne. It was not a great time. My self-esteem plummeted and I was so self-conscious that I tried to find excuses to not meet my friends.
Finally, I decided to visit the polyclinic. I was given doxycycline pills and also two different acne creams (Benzac AC 2.5 and Acne Clear). It took me a good 9-10 months to completely get rid of the acne. Currently, I still have acne scars and the occasional pimples during that time of the month, but it's definitely MUCH better than what I had to go through last year.
I realise that a sudden acne attack, or living with acne, can be quite daunting. Hence, I want to share my experience on dealing with acne. I hope this post can help (of course not entirely, but hopefully to some extent) readers out there who are looking for tips and support.
- You have to understand that people will ask about your skin problems. Sometimes, these people do not mean harm; they are genuinely concerned. Instead of being angry or getting hurt by the remark, explain to them the situation. If you explain your situation to them, they will know that you are really bothered by it and trying your best to get rid if it, and in the future, they will try to not mention it every again.
- When you meet people who are insensitive and make fun of your problem, it's not easy to ignore them. But it's within your means to see the situation in positive light. I used to be really ashamed of myself when some bastards laugh at my skin problems. However, I realised that being depressed would not solve the situation. I turned the situation around and I was determined to get rid of the acne. Their laughs are only temporary and you need to internalise this fact. Also, being too depressed actually can lead to more skin problems!! It's alright to feel sad about it (we are all humans here) but it's not alright to be persistently sad about it!
- Surround yourself with people who understands your situation and will support you. If you know a certain individual will make fun of you, then why are you still hanging out with him/her?
- You need to move that body! Go out for a jog or spend some time at the gym, and make it a habit. You may think that exercising = sweating = more acne, but that's not always the case! Exercising actually helps to lower stress, build your immune system and make you feel better about yourself. With regular exercise (and a good and cleansing shower after each session), acne can be kept within control!
- Get rid of milk, or any food with high glycaemic index (GI). These actually cause a spike in your hormone levels and stimulates sebum production. Food with high GI includes potatoes, white break, fizzy drinks and chocolate. When I was treating my acne, I cut off milk completely from my diet and the difference was quite impressive. I always thought that this claim was not scientifically proven, but I guess it is now! Read this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2281151/Milk-sugary-foods-DO-increase-risk-acne-say-researchers-looked-50-years-research.html
- Include health supplements that help with healthy skin in your diet. I religiously took vitamin E and evening primrose oil pills and they definitely helped with my skin condition.
- Drink lots and lots of water. You just have to replace all your sugary drink intake with water and you are good to go.
- Fruits and vegetables are of course a must! But be wary of what fruits and vegetables you eat. Eating too much of fruits that have high fructose (natural sugar) can also worsen your condition! Fruits like lychee, mangoes, bananas, peaches and pineapples have high fructose levels and you should eat these sparingly. I'm not saying that these fruits are bad for skin - these fruits are healthy food but TOO MUCH of each may cause more acne. The mantra is simple - too much of anything can be bad.
- You need to sleep well. Period. Not sleeping well exacerbates the acne - the term "beauty sleep" is not just for show, you know?
- Get rid of your old cleansers, toners, moisturisers, etc. Start on a new skincare routine where the products are the gentlest possible. The only harsh thing that you should have on your skin is the medication given by your dermatologist. I highly recommend Cetaphil - it's a really gentle cleanser that does nothing but clean your skin. No weird chemicals that promise this and that, your skin probably doesn't need them now.
- STOP TOUCHING YOUR ACNE. It's incredibly tempting to pop a pimple. Some people argue that popping a really mature pimple with the correct procedure can be helpful. The question is how do you judge what a really mature pimple is? If you really have to pop one, do not use your fingers. Instead take a few layers of tissue and wet them slightly with warm water. With the warm layers of tissue on each finger, squeeze your pimple - this will at least make the process less unhygienic. Of course, the best solution is to NOT squeeze at all. Easier said than done, but you just gotta try.
- If you need to wear makeup, then go ahead. Dermatologists (and many other people) will definitely recommend you to not apply cosmetic products. However, there are some of us who need to at least try concealing the acne. It's okay to wear makeup, but you need to choose the correct products. When you buy liquid foundation or concealers or other products, be sure to buy those that are oil-free and non-comedogenic (will not clog your pores).
- Don't sleep with your face on the pillow/bolster. Your skin is terribly sensitive when you have a massive breakout and a slight bacteria infestation can worsen it. Therefore, sleep with your face facing the ceiling and don't cover it with a blanket. If possible, try to change your bed sheets more frequently too.
- When drying up your face after washing it, don't use your towel to wipe away the excess water. Instead, use many, many layers of tissue and dab on your skin. It's not very environmentally-friendly, but hey, you gotta choose.