It took me a while to get to this point. A solid 15 years in the making. But alas here I am. Allow me to take you on a journey. A journey that is the epitome of “actions speak louder than words.” I would like to flat out say, I truly do believe that all intentions by associated parties were positive, but the outcomes ended negatively. It wasn’t until a visit with my councilor in my last semester in college that I had this break through. My intention of this, is to hopefully help someone who is having a similar experience to mine, and learn from my past so they don’t go through years of not knowing like myself.
I began seeing a dermatologist for my Eczema in 3rd grade. I had really bad Eczema, particularly on my hands and feet. But once puberty hit, and my hormones ran amuck, my dermatologist also helped me with my acne; well tried to.
Looking back at photos, my acne wasn’t that bad. It was average. But I HATED my skin. Having Eczema I’m sure contributed to the self consciousness, I never knew I had until I was an adult. In terms of acne though, photos of me are either telling the truth that my acne wasn’t terrible. Or showing the lie because my acne was hidden under a mask of green concealer, foundation and heavy setting powder. Recently I asked my mom about my acne and she said it wasn’t terrible, but I did have a lot of black heads and when my pimples did pop up, they were large, inflamed and looked painful.
When I was in 4th grade and my acne started, my dermatologist prescribed me with a spot treatment. At this point, I had small pimples on my forehead, blackheads and white heads on my nose and chin, and several large pimples scattered around my face. My mom put it one for me that first night to show me how to apply it and I went to sleep. I woke up the next day and my skin was almost flawless. I was ecstatic! I ran in to my mom’s room overjoyed because my skin was so wonderful and I hadn’t seen my skin look that amazing since before the 3rd grade.
That cream worked for about a week, then it caused me to break out. So we called the doctor who said to reduce use and use it only twice a week. At that point it didn’t do anything.
My next few visits went from 1 prescription, a nightly spot treatment, to getting 3 prescriptions: a moisturizer (which was amazing) a spot treatment (which did nothing but cause my breakouts to get worse) and a prescription face wash (which was a glorified scrub). My last visit with her in high school ended in getting an oral antibiotic, which I took for a week until my mom said, “Ok we’re done here.”
Now all this time, I was under the impression I had the worst acne in all of man kind. The reality was my acne was average. But I was never told my skin wasn’t bad. And the cliche of actions speak louder than words was precisely what happened. I just left with more and more prescriptions. I thought my skin was as bad as the teenagers on the Proactiv and Clean & Clear commercials.
It was in high school while on vacation in the Amalfi coast I found what worked for my skin. My mom and I got facials at our resort hotel. The aesthetician there told me my skin wasn’t bad, but it did need to heal. The skin care line that hotel used was the first thing that EVER helped heal my skin (Mary Cohr I think is the brand).
Moving back to the States I wasn’t able to get that product line. As a result in college my skin flared up. Oh how wished I could have gone back and told high school me my skin wasn’t that bad. At that point my skin went back to how it was in high school but with the added bonus of stress acne. I started seeing a new dermatologist. He explained there are two types of treatments: healing and fast acting. Healing is always best he explained. He put me on a different version of a spot treatment that didn’t actually work, and neither did this new version, as well as 2 other treatments. My nightly ritual consisted of a 3 layers of treatments. Each treating different severities/types of acne. Nothing worked.
On my second and final visit, I was harshly accused of picking my pimples and being the cause of my acne from one of the nurses. Yes I will admit I do extract some of my pores and black heads, however the spots I was told I picked, I know for a fact I didn’t. The doctor did point out that because I have naturally dry skin and inflamed acne I’m more likely to scar with or without extracting my pores. I was given a 4th prescription that dried my skin out so badly on the first try I never used again.
I started seeing a new esthetician who explained to me what was actually happening with my skin. Something my dermatologists never explained or walked me through. It was because of these explanations that I learned how to help my skin and take ownership of it.
This might be a TMI moment, so feel free to skip this part. Sometimes Florida humidity acts like a steamer and my pores will open up. This causes either a black head to roll out, or if it’s inflamed, the pore will minimally bleed and empty that way. I saw a doctor about that who said I don’t believe you and to which I thought, great I’m glad I came to you. My esthetician believed me because she had seen it happen after the steamer had been on my skin for a while. Long story short she explained that it’s from my inflamed acne and I needed to treat that. I have since treated been able to treat it.
This lead to empowerment to help myself, read everything I could and start that conversation with an expert, and create the best possible solutions. And I did.
An example of this is when I learned my skin needs probiotics. When my mom’s soap lady told me that goat’s milk soap helps with inflammation (she admitted she didn’t know why just that it does), I found it puzzling but I conducted my own research. How a dairy product could calm inflammation? (dairy can cause inflammation). After research I found goat’s milk has a high concentration in probiotics, what my skin needed. This was what treated that bleeding issue I was having in.
I also researched that the inflamation will contribte and make your skin more susceptible to scaring.
*I am looking into vegan alternatives. Currently I make my own cleanser that includes straight probiotics, but it doesn’t work as effectively as the goat’s milk.
I know this sounds like I’m hating on dermatologists or even the medical field. I promise I’m not. I know there are amazing doctors out there who explain to their patients what is happening to their skin or to their bodies. I just saw two who didn’t. And again, I’m sure they were trying to help, I just wish they had more empathy and explained more to me.
It took a few years seeing a councilor to figure out part of the root to my insecurities. And it wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind. (Hence the break through). I said this in the beginning, my hope is to help someone like myself who is struggling with acne or skin issues.