My battle with Acne

Warning : This post may contain disturbing graphic images

Though I don’t think of myself as a model-worthy person, I do think of myself as a relatively attractive woman.

I have to thank my genes, both my parents being good looking – my mum of Bugis descent while my dad is 1/4 Indian.

When I wake up and look in the mirror, most of the times, I’m quite thankful to see that even without the aid of make-up, a relatively clear face with a hint of pink on the cheeks, shiny and abundant black hair.

It hasn’t always been like that though.

Growing up as the eldest child, in a neighbourhood full of male peers, I was a tomboy and I didn’t care about how I looked like.

As a toddler

At 8 years old with the world’s best brother

At 12 years old, with my cousin Noreen

But as I grew out of my childhood, and puberty kicked in, I started to have acne. At first, it was quite tolerable, the acne was small-ish and it was infrequent. I started to use a fair bit of my pocket money to buy loads of over the counter face wash, to try to control the zits. I tried brands like Neutrogena and Oxy-10.

Some of them worked fine, while others didn’t work very well and even made my face crack and burn. In time, I learnt which brands I needed to avoid.

But the worse was to come.

During my pre-university days in JI, the zits flared threefold and I started to have larger and angrier pustules. It was probably from the stress that I was experiencing while in school. It was extremely disconcerting to see the zits.

Being a student, and unable to afford a dermatologist, I decided to go to the government subsidised polyclinic. I was prescribed an anti-biotic called tetracycline which I had to take regularly.

After a few months my face was clear and I felt pretty again.

Jurong Institute, Racial Harmony Day, 1998

Several years later, I started working as a part time trainer. I started to have small zits on my face. This time, I decided to use a facial set called ‘Proactive Solution’. To a large extent, it was beneficial in controlling my zits, but after using it for a length of time, it began to irritate my sensitive skin. My skin felt stung and raw.

I tried going for facial sessions. I hated the visits though. They have this technique called ‘extraction’ where they poke your face with a metal device and squeeze the zits out. That was excruciating pain! Many a time, I’d be crying out of the pain.

I couldn’t continue with the treatments any more.

I then went back to the government subsidised polyclinic and had a referral to the National Skin Center. I was prescribed with a stronger version antibiotics called doxycycline. After a few months, my skin was clear again and stayed clear till late 2004 and to which I think, started one of the lowest point of my life.

Early 2004

August 2004

December 2004

I used to have a job where the managers mishandled finances, and they decided to suddenly cut my pay in half, and didn’t pay regularly. With the stress of having to make payments for the bills and my upcoming course, my face flared up again. I had to watch my money very carefully and not make extravagant purchases.

I tried to use the internet for advice and took the tips from a forum. It claims that through the correct consumption of food, acne could be controlled.

I gave it a try. I didn’t consume complex sugars and oil and avoided milk. Once a week I did the salt water flush which was supposed to be beneficial for clearing my kidneys to prevent kidney stones that affects the condition of the skin.

I shudder when I see this picture of me in January 2005

It might have worked for a lot of people, but it didn’t worked for me. And my skin continued to be bad till I decided that I’ve had enough and went to see a general practitioner about my face. He prescribed doxycycline. Additionally, he told me that I had to continue with my topical skincare antibiotics even after the internal antibiotics because a woman’s hormones more or less balances out when they turn 30.

Prescription only topical antibiotics

It took longer for my skin to become clear. It has been about two months now that I’ve stopped taking the antibiotics. I still have zits every now and then. But its certainly not as bad as last year. I am starting to feel more confidence about myself now.

I really hope that I don’t get my flare-ups again. No one should go through all that emotional trauma. Even if people say that physical appearances doesn’t matter, it still hurtful when these same people gives out gestures or even worse, comments.

My face is relatively clear at the moment. But lets see how it turns out in time.

By the way, I am not proud of my zits picture but its been part of my growing up. Its part of life, that builds me.

23 thoughts on “My battle with Acne”

  1. I think it’s brave of you to put up that pic. I don’t have the guts to put up a makeup-less pic of me. =/

    And in a way, I can relate to you in this entry. I had bad skin while growing up, though not really that bad, but enough to make me depressed, lock myself in my room and quarrel with parents coz I don’t want to go with them to family functions. Proactive made my skin peel after a week! Only applied the repairing lotion when needed now, ignoring the cleanser and toner. At least it works better than Oxy-5/Oxy-10/Oxyscrubs..

    I still have pimples too and they never fail to leave souvenirs on my face. But ever since I’ve discovered concealers, I’m now more confident when taking pictures. Now if only I could lose some kilos.. Ack!

    Oh, I never knew our paternal family has indian blood! From our grandmother side? My parents kept saying my dad is of genuine malay descent of Jawa denomination.. So ma fan explaining to ppl about my heritage, I just tell them I’m a mix of malay and chinese, ignoring the others.

  2. Oh, I must share this with you.. Try Osim Refine! Makes your skin feel mosturised and glow.. I stopped taking them coz of financial factors. =(

  3. Hi Crystal, yes of course ๐Ÿ™‚ At the moment, my face is relatively ok. I still have zits every now and then but I’m just glad that it isnt as bad as when I had it last year!

    Miza, I dont usually go around with makeup and everyone around me (at work, at classes) usually sees me sans makeup, so I might as well put it up on the blog anyways – I’m too lazy to wear makeup on a regular basis anyways ๐Ÿ˜›

    Yeah I know that feeling, there was a time when my friend Juli asked me out to town. “Wear really nicely!” She said, “You’re going on a date”

    But I was really not in the mood, I had precious few money left and I really looked horrible, I left town like 30 minutes after I’ve reached there.

    It was too depressing.

    I think you can lose kilos even without newfangled devices and pills. If we can do it during the fasting period, I dont see why we cant do the same on other months … My new regime is called the “too busy to eat” diet ๐Ÿ˜›

    Osim refine looks expensive ๐Ÿ˜ Is like the collagen pills I bought a year or two ago. Over 100 dollars …The promoter said it will renew skin cells and make me look younger, so I got a bottle … but in the end, I couldnt continue taking it because it had adverse effects on my skin ๐Ÿ˜

    But hey, I saw yahoo auctions selling it for $50. You think its advisable?

  4. heya marina, i can feel your pain. i have a zit problem too, though it seems well reined in at the mo after a roaccutane prescription. like u, i went through several GPs, proactive, weird remedies, but only to have a relapse months after. very frustrating. >.<

    so hopefully your skin stays clear and pretty hereafter! =) feel free to exchange skin care tips and etc with me aye? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    err, am a (not-so-silent-anymore) reader of your blog, btw. *waves* adore your entries, heh.

  5. If I pop my pimples, they won’t come again?

  6. You are gorgeous the way you are, you are creative and artistic and sweet!

    When you frown at any annoying zits, remember that those who matter don’t mind them, and those who mind don’t matter!

    <3

  7. I went through a horrible phase between 16 and 19. Thank goodness that is over now. I must say though, you are beautiful!

    Jenna

  8. I only buy Osim Refine at Yahoo Auction coz then I can buy them per tray according to my financial situation. Last time I bought 30 pills for $15. Wah, so happy!

    Maybe you should check the composition of the Osim Refine pills 1st, see if there’s a substance that you know will have adverse effect on you. Other than that, I think it’s worth a try. Belum cuba belum tahu kan?

    One thing for sure is, Osim Refine is way cheaper than Intenz.

  9. Hi Myztika ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, Zits are one of the most unpleasant part of growing up. Its is rather enviable to see people who are naturally zit free isnt it? They didnt even need to wash their face! Thats amazing.

    Is roaccutane the same thing as accutane? I was almost given accutane by the GP but I did tell him about my hesitantion about very strong anti biotics – I’ve read about its side effects and I didnt want to risk my health.

    So it was either doxycycline or this hormonal stabilizing pill (commonly used to prevent pregnancies) So I chose doxy, since its cheaper and less side effects ๐Ÿ™‚

    I will hope that we both dont get any more relapses! Zits are annoying!

    Hehehehe *waves back*

    Doe doe : Dont pop! It will leave scars! And scars is no good ๐Ÿ˜ You can try wrapping a piece of cloth and hold it to your zit to make it smaller. Then put medicine after that

    Anyway, you dont have obvious zits, its not bad. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lakeside girl : Aww … ๐Ÿ™‚ <3

    (Err .. whats that by the way? Is that someone making a smoochie? Or is that a heart?)

    Jenna : Erm … thanks *embarassed*

    I’m glad that the phase is over for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Miza : Wah $15 dollars only? Thats awesome! Is it one a day?

    I’m consuming multivitamins at the moment, am not sure if it works, but at least I’m not as lethargic as I’m usually am ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Still get sleepy at work though)

  10. I never really had bad skin – an occasional zit during hormonal times, but that was about it.

    I’m sure it’s very hard to face people when your whole face is broken out, because I know, even with just one, I’d be feeling as if everyone was looking at the zit instead of me.

    Good luck with the treatment and I hope it continues to work for you. And perhaps you need to find something you enjoy doing that’s a little more stress free. Stress seems to show it’s ugly face in so many ways.

  11. Hey darl,

    I can TOTALLY relate to this post!

    I have the same problem like yours. Now my face is slowly clearing up. Just to share with you what my dermatologist has advised me. Since your face is already clear for now, do not apply any moisturiser/toner/sunblock or whatsoever not to your skin. Leave it bare. Less is more. And if you are still on antibiotics eventhough your skin have cleared, do not stop taking it until your dermatologist told you so.

    ok enough beauty tips.

    p.s. oh btw, I stumbled upon your blog!

  12. Miza : I wish I were a rich taitai ๐Ÿ˜€ I could even afford dermabrasions that way. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Hi Jafer ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, you are right. Its not so easy to deal with people when one has bad skin. And thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ I do hope that it continues to work too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi anon ๐Ÿ™‚ My doc recommended that I use sunblock though, so that the pigmentations will fade away naturally. I dont use moisturizer however, I use a matt lotion which is supposed to control the oil. When I went to Italy my face was all dried up though, I really dont know what to do ๐Ÿ˜›

    Thanks so much for dropping by! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Hi Marina,
    I feel like I”m reading my own story, when you tell the tale of your skin. I’ve also had the same kind of journey. I’ve tried everything, and everything has worked in some way….. for awhile. But in the end, slowly, it comes back. I”m a nurse, and let me tell you there have been days where I was so upset I called in sick to work because I thought ‘who would want this ugly, zit faced nurse looking after me…she doesn’t look well… she might make me sick’…..But, I recently realized something that I wanted to share with you. I think it just might be the answer. I’ve said a lot of prayers, and I really feel like an angel, or a force has given me this understanding, and that the more I know of this method, the more it comes up, and becomes easier to find healing. Maybe it seems a little weird, and a bit like your mom’s “old wives tale” about the underwear, and prayer…lol… Anyway, I know what you’re thinking… ok here we go another false claim… another supposed “miracle” cure… God knows we’ve tried them all!!! But please continue to read this, because I really believe it’s worth trying. I think the answer to the problem is to believe, and visualize clear skin in your mind. It’s really hard to do especially when you are reminded of zits, and blackheads when you look in the mirror, wash your face, put lotion on, try to cover things up… but I think it’s really valuable and could just be the cure. Lately, whenever I have to do anything with my face, look at it, wash it, put make up on it… I acknowledge those “ugly” thoughts, and then I replace them with “I am so beautiful”. It feels a little forced right now, but I know somewhere deep down we all have a part of God in us, therefore, it is true we are beautiful. Believing we are an image of beauty is difficult, we don’t want to seem vain, or competitive, or upset others. But, I think God wants us to feel beautiful, and to see beauty in what surrounds us. I know when I see someone else with acne, I still see their beauty, but I feel for them, because I know inside they are probably hurting, and aren’t feeling beautiful. I’m going to continue with this way of thinking… to visualize beauty, and to help let my inner beauty shine to the outside… I know it won’t happen overnight, but I’ll try and let you know how I do with my progress. So far, I feel like it’s working. I’m finding more blackheads are surfacing, and zits are coming to a head, suggesting to me that they are on their way out. I don’t feel like I look great, but I do know that it’s taken a long time for my acne problem to play out, therefore, it will take a while to train my mind to accept healing and feeling truly beautiful. I will say a prayer for you, and I hope you will do the same….
    God be with you, and help you on your journey. I pray that God will hear your deepest intentions, and help you believe that your body, and your mind can heal this acne. I pray that God’s light in you will shine up and through your pores, and shed all that feels blocked in your body. I pray that you might realize these blocks are reflecting the mental blocks you place on not accepting the beauty God gave you, and wants you to feel. I pray you will accept God’s love, and acknowledge that God created you and wants you to see how beautiful his love is, and that you’re beauty is a gift to the world for us all to see the beauty he is capable of creating. Much like a beautiful bird, or sunset, or mountain, God creates beauty so that we might share it with others. But man has manipulated this idea, and has created pressures upon us, to which we feel we must attain beauty. We don’t need to try so hard. Beauty is in you, and in me, and in all that is around us. Look outside, and believe this when you walk around. See for yourself the beauty that exists, in so many elements of life. In the animate world of people, and plants, and animals, and the inanimate of rocks, and water, and hills, and valleys… to the subconscious… to laughter, and smiles, and sounds… make note of the beauty… focus on it… acknowledge what is not beautiful, but do not dwell, instead seek to find what is beautiful again, and smile when you realize it, and that it’s power is all around you, and can heal you. I pray that you will continue to see beauty in all your days, and in all the ways the world will present it to you. I pray that in each moment you see and feel beauty you will know that God is proving to you that you are healing yourself, and in turn sharing your knowledge and healing with the world around you. God bless, and keep you and your loved ones well.
    Love,
    Alison
    British Columbia, Canada.

  14. I have acne and all I pray for is God to help me with it and I really don’t want to try alot of acne products (because of money problems) but if u have God in your life then you can have anything including a acne free face try it because i’m sure going to try it.

  15. you should try an astringent in the morning after washing your face and at night after washing your face also try spot treating with something that will dry any red spots..

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