This time last year I’d be waking up every morning to a reflection in the mirror that I hated. All I could see were deep, painful, fiery breakouts all over my face. At the time I blamed it on the stress of the final months of Uni but unbeknown to me it was much more serious than that. I now know that this ugliness that I would look at in the mirror, that I would try to cover up, that I would cry about, that would prevent me from attending lectures …was not a just a breakout.
After missing an entire week of Uni, two shifts in work and having not left the house in eight days, my mum was, understandably, becoming more and more worried. “I’ve made you a Dr’s appointment Ann, we’ve got to get to the bottom of this” she told me one morning from the other side of my bedroom door. As mothers often are-she was right. Whatever this was, this red mass of painfulness on my face, had changed my whole appearance, was affecting my social life, getting in the way of my education and stopping me from going to work.”It’s in half an hour so hurry up and make our way down there” she tells me as I hunt for my foundation that I haven’t used in what feels like forever. As I found my tube of false hope I caught a glimpse of myself in my dressing table mirror. I realised then how bad it was. I realised then that my Dr needed to see how bad it was.
I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the house with my red inflamed skin exposed for the world to see… but I had to. I got my shoes on, wrapped my scarf around my neck and up over my chin, pulled my hood up and left. Walking five minutes around the corner to the Doctors surgery, bare-faced, was the most agonising thing. Well, the second most agonising thing. The first would be having to talk to the receptionist and then having to sit in the waiting area with dozens of unfamiliar eyes staring my way. But boy was it worth it. In just thirty minutes I was speedily walking home, prescription bag in hand, within which contained some actual hope to get this thing under control.
Cystic Acne. That’s what it was. Unlike normal acne, which occurs due to the hormonal change in puberty, Cystic acne is caused by hormonal imbalances which are a result of having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It can be painful, it can occur well after puberty and it can be seriously emotionally distressing due to its severity in the way in which it basically takes over your face .
After my appointment with my Dr I started my course of antibiotics. I was prescribed a drug called Tetracyline (Tetralysal) an oral medication to help fight my cystic acne. It’s a fairly common first step to prescribe a type of antibiotics, then it can be monitored by ‘less of this’ and ‘more of that’ which I’ll talk about in a bit.
These photos were taken four days after I made that terrifying trip to the doctors. I couldn’t believe it- my face was getting better.
Low and behold, in one week my skin transformed. It went from the first two pictures, to the ones above, to, well, this….
It’s been a rollercoaster. I have had a few breakouts since, three maybe, in fact my first one after these photos were taken was about a month after. I called my Doctor and I was given a repeat prescription of the same antibiotics as before and, as expected, they worked. Then, a few months after that I had another breakout. This time, I was told to try a topical antibiotic called Duac. My Doctor informed me that like with any antibiotic, the more I use Tetralysal, the less effective it will be as my body will eventually become immune to the drug. With Duac, a cream, I can use a tiny bit every now and then on the affected area and let it do its work over-night.
Now that I very rarely get bad skin (and when I do I use my Duac cream) I make sure I look after it as best as I can to ensure it stays acne free.
Here’s some simple tips to remember how to prolong your clear clear:
- No scrubbing your face with exfoliators containing microbeads and harsh chemicals.
- Drink lots of water! Check out my blog post about the benefits of staying hydrated: FIVE REASONS TO DRINK MORE WATER
- Use alcohol free face wipes or micellar water and a soft flannel to remove makeup.
- Use a fragrance-free calming moisturiser before bed and before applying makeup.
Disclaimer: This blog is based on my own personal experience with Hormonal/Cystic Acne. This is to act as a reflection, not a means of expert opinion or advice, If you have acne of any kind and want to get to the bottom of it, like I did, it’s best to just make an appointment with your local GP as they’ll be the one’s who’ll know exactly how to deal with it 🙂