How Acne Nearly Destroyed My Life
Acne. For most people it’s the unfortunate reality of adolescence. However for others, it’s a never-ending nightmare that extends beyond the teenage years and leads to self-esteem issues and in some cases, depression.
After using over-the-counter cosmetic facials and creams that didn’t work, Maieve decided to consult her GP who diagnosed her with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and was referred to a dermatologist who prescribed Roaccutane, a drug commonly used to treat chronic acne. It was effective in reducing the breakouts, however over the course of a year, she suffered severe side effects which included dry skin, sun sensitivity and mental health problems.
Deciding the side effects weren’t worth it, she turned to alternative therapies. Maieve consulted a naturopath who prescribed a dairy-free diet, in addition to herbal remedies. Although there was some improvement with reducing the breakouts, this treatment wasn’t as good as Roaccutane.
Two years passed, and Maieve decided to give Proactive a try after seeing infomercials on TV. Proactive helped clear the skin, but she also noticed that her skin was very pale. There were also some other side effects including sun-sensitivity and skin dryness. Her skin seemed to also become more susceptible to scarring.
Her constant severe acne lead to poor self-esteem, secondary anxiety and depression, as well as hiding away from the world.
I wore scarves and hoodies, large glasses, hats and would not make eye contact with anyone when going out in public, and would specifically try to avoid going out in the day time as I felt at night I could hide my skin with makeup. I even had time off work as I felt I was unable to face clients looking like I had scabies on my face.”
When she turned 22, and despite still using Proactive, breakouts started occurring around her jawline and chin.
“This was not once a month hormonal breakout but constant pustule deep seat pimples which looked like large welts on the side of my neck,” she recalls.
Maieve tried the usual facial and extraction method, however was told that they were too deep and didn’t even have a head. This lead to picking at the acne until her jaw and neck were covered in scabs. She remembers one of the darkest times in her life, when she was on a train travelling home from work.
The only available seat was next to me, however a man refused to sit down and made a comment about how he didn’t want to catch my acne. That night I considered taking my own life, I had zero confidence and was struggling with a deep self-hate.”
Her GP had advised that it was quite common for women with PCOS to suffer a flare up in their early 20’s.
“Initially we tried a topical treatment which yielded little to no effect. This topical gel was then coupled with an antibiotic doxycycline as the skin itself looked highly irritated and infected with all my picking.”
Frustrated, Maieve began reading blogs and forums dedicated to PCOS, and stumbled upon Metformin, a medication often prescribed to women to help prevent diabetes. She spoke to her GP, desperate for something to work, however the side effects of the drug made her physically sick over the course of 3 months.
“I couldn’t take it any longer as I was having days off work due.”
It was at this point that Maieve decided to revisit a dermatologist who told her to try most of the available treatments including pills and topical steroid treatments. He told her that if these didn’t work then the only other option would be Roaccutane.
In late 2015, she came across acne treatments from Dr McCaffery’s SGA and Clearskincare Clinics. It wasn’t long before she was booked in and had her first treatment. Improvements to her skin were immediate in reducing the severity of the breakouts, however she began to worry after a couple of months of treatment because she wasn’t seeing the same immediate results as before.
“The clinical staff explained that given some of my breakouts were so deep in the skin it would take several treatments until they were able to easily find the head of the breakout to treat.”
They were right. After keeping up the recommended skincare routine the breakouts started to disappear. It took about 6 months of regular Dr McCaffery’s SGA treatments, peels and daily skin care for Maieve’s skin to clear up.
“However I think the best thing apart from obviously the mental, social and emotional improvements is the actual physical appearance of my skin. Not only have my breakouts completely cleared, but my skin is the best it’s ever looked in my entire life,” she excitedly reveals.
I go makeup free to work on a daily basis and am complimented what are you doing to your skin, its looks so fresh and youthful.”
Now 25 years of age, she moisturises her skin day and night, something she would never have dreamt of doing previously after suffering from oily skin.
I never in all my life would have imagined I would be known for having beautiful baby’s bottom skin.”