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The first thing I see when I look in the bathroom mirror, the morning sleep still in my eyes, is my acne. I look at the red, inflamed bumps and whiteheads like they are old friends that I wish would leave me alone. I turn my head this way and that to see the new “friends” that were not there the night before. My acne is like a bruise or cuts you get. You are not sure why or how you got it. Some days, I can shrug off my skin imperfections. The other days, I feel like the world is seeing my acne before they see me as a person.
I went to a dermatologist last month for an acne treatment. As a 24-year-old, I have a few years before my health insurance runs out, so my sister convinced to go before I would be stuck with acne for the rest of my life. There was not much of an examination because of my recent trip to the dermatologist for something else. After telling my doctor that I have been dealing with acne since puberty, she suggested I take care of the skin disorder once and for all. She prescribed me with Accutane. Now, I have heard of Accutane, but I have never been prescribed it. Accutane or isotretinoin is another form of vitamin A that is used for severe nodular acne.
It was not mentioned once when I went to a dermatologist in my first year of college. The doctor at the time just sent me home with an oral antibiotic and a crème. My acne in my first year of college was mild and controllable. If I could go back, I would tell myself to drink more water and stop consuming dairy products. I would tell myself to appreciate the condition my skin was at the time. I sit here now, out of college, with consistent, painful acne with blackheads on the T-zone of my face, shoulders, and back.
Recently, my job used to be in marketing/sales. I would go up to a lot of people and talk about a product, with the intent that the person would like to know more about it or want to purchase it. No one seems to point and stare at my face, but I knew what they were seeing. One day, a frequent shopper at the store I worked in walked past me and I tried to stop her. She said she was having a bad day and she did not want to hear it. I let it go, not wanting to be pushy. After 30 minutes, she comes back around my table and goes off about how she can help me with my skin problem because my face was inflamed. I was taken back, a little offended. She proceeds to tell me she works at a salon. She helped her daughter and other customers with their skin problems. She told me my skin looked bad out of kindness.
I visited her to see what the next step would be but decided against doing anything farther. I did not want to spend money on something I was not sure would help me. The risk of the whole thing was too great for me. I put all my faith into my doctor when sat on the exam table in the small, clean examination room last month. I glanced over the papers the doctor gave me to sign but did not really care what they said. I want my acne to go away.
Sometimes, my mind wonders what I would look like with smooth, flawless skin. I compare myself to my sister in this way. Her skin disorder during high school and college were bad. When I look back, I can only imagine her with severe acne. She finally got help from a dermatologist when she moved after college. Now, my sister barely has any acne and only breaks out sometimes. To me, she was very pretty to begin with, but now she is all I wish to be.
There are many types of skin disorders. The most common acne are Whiteheads, Blackheads, Papules, and Pustules. The severe acne is Nodules, Cysts, and Acne Conglobate. The result of the more common acne is pores being clogged with dead skin cells and sebum, natural oils produced by the body. For Papules and Pustules, bacteria and pus become built up in the pore. Severe acne can last for months and be very painful. If not treated, severe acne can impact the skin, causing permanent damage to the skin.
Acne is caused by many things, but it is different for everyone. For me, I have acne because of my hormonal imbalance, which is genetic. I also have a Generalized Anxiety disorder and Social Anxiety disorder. My mind is always worried about something. I catch myself racing over the same thought repeatedly like it is the most important thing in the world. Planning a simple outing grows my anxiety into a tall, looming creature that breathes on my neck until I feel panic. I always want to know when we are leaving, will it be hot/cold, how many people will there, and many more questions. You could say I am never relaxed.
In a few days, I will be going back to the doctors for my first treatment of Accutane. There are nervous, excited bubbles in my stomach because I just know I will change. I will be an image of my sister or the image I could only see in my mind. It will take time and patience. My dermatologist estimates I will be on Accutane for three months and it should clear up my acne. I will be left with acne scars, but I am fine with this. They will be my battle scars.