Imagine waking up with a bad breakout every single day. That’s how it feels to suffer from adult acne.
The stigma surrounding adult acne is something that needs to be broken. Acne isn't something adults should be ashamed to have.
If you suffer from hormonal acne, I feel for you. And if you break out every so often, I feel for you. However, I especially feel for those who suffer from persistent acne every day, like I do.
According to “Prevalence of facial acne in adults” from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 12 to 22 percent of U.S. women and 3 percent of U.S. men suffer from clinical adult acne. I’m lucky enough to be part of the 12-22 percent.
I’ve had acne since the sixth grade. I thought maybe once I was an adult it would fade away, but so far it hasn’t. I have had ten years to try almost every prescribed, home and over-the-counter treatment possible. However, the only thing that worked for me was Accutane, and it only cleared up my skin for a few months before my acne came back with a vengeance.
“Why don’t people with acne just wash their faces?”
If you are guilty of saying this, please understand simply washing your face is not a cure for acne. Also, what worked to help your breakout probably won’t help mine. I am cleaner than most, and I promise whatever you’re about to tell me cured your acne, doesn’t work for everyone.
For some reason, whenever I bring up my skin, or others bring it up, they tell me their suggestions on what I should do about it. While I’m listening to their suggestions, I am often screaming internally.
In the media acne is perceived as negative. Only unhygienic, gross and pubescent people have acne. In one of my media classes this semester, we edited a photo to take someone’s acne away. This is a basic Photoshop skill, but it felt awkward editing someone else's acne away. I'm guilty of doing this on occasion, but doing it in a class made me realize how my face must look to the people around me.
I’m often afraid my acne will make me less desirable to future employers. As a media studies major, looks are important if you want to be successful in front of the camera or on social media. Some days, I want to switch majors just so I won’t have to deal with a situation where I am told I can’t do something because of my looks.
I go to a dermatologist every month to try and find something to help reduce my acne, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. When Accutane is the only treatment that works for you, it is hard to find milder products that work, and these seemingly-pointless visits can be pricey. Accutane is a powerful drug, and it has rough side effects (dry and peeling skin, bloody nose, dry eyes, joint pain and hair loss are some common ones). Females have to take a pregnancy test at their doctor's office every month before being prescribed their next dose. Most dermatologists will avoid prescribing it except as a last resort.
If you know someone with acne, be courteous in what you say to and around them. Acne is quite the blow to one’s self esteem; they don’t need you talking about how bad acne is. Please don’t say “ew” whenever someone is talking about zits. It’s hurtful to hear someone say “ew” to something you have no control over.
Remember acne isn’t caused by any one thing. It can be brought on by genetics or stress, and there isn’t much one can do when these factors play a role. Your breakout isn’t comparable to consistent acne everywhere on your face, although it still sucks, so don’t try to sympathize if you can help it. Us females know makeup doesn’t cover our acne completely, but it does help give us a confidence boost, so you don’t have to remind us. Just let your peers with acne know it doesn’t define them, and they still look great despite with their zits.
If you are part of the 12-22 percent of adults suffering from persistent acne, understand you aren’t alone. Some days it can be hard to love yourself, but your skin doesn’t make or break your looks. You’re still hot.