There’s so much more public awareness about all kinds of things these days – race, sexuality, disability, gender, mental health, bullying, to name just a few. And thank God for that. We’re making progress in the fight against stigma and discrimination. However, I find it profoundly disappointing that the level of ignorance surrounding acne remains the same as ever.
So here are a few things it might help you to know about acne. If you’re a parent who has kids that DON’T suffer from acne, please make them read this. I’m thinking of the kid in their class at school who does have acne and who could do with their understanding.
10 things you should know about acne.
- Acne is not caused by poor diet. FACT.
- Acne is not caused by poor hygiene. FACT.
- Acne is caused by a hormonal imbalance (a higher-than-average level of testosterone) that affects the sebaceous glands, making them over-productive. This isn’t something that can be solved by some amazing cleanser from Boots. We’re talking medication prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist.
- People who have acne usually go through a year or so of trying out various prescribed treatments, which vary in their effectiveness. Roaccutane, known as one of the most effective medications, usually requires at least 6 months of treatment and entails the risk of unpleasant side effects, such as super-dry skin and headaches.
- People who have acne are totally aware that they have it. You don’t need to tell them.
- You also don’t need to give them your advice – unless of course you’re a dermatologist or have had acne yourself. Suggestions like, “you should cut down on sugar” or “you shouldn’t wear so much make-up” come from ignorance – even if meant in kindness. People with acne get comments like this all the time. It’s not helpful. It’s the opposite.
- Acne tends to be temporary, even if it lasts several years. Ignorance, on the other hand, can last a lifetime if left untreated.
- People who have acne often don’t like to draw attention to themselves. So if they don’t seem to contribute much to conversation, perhaps they could do with some warm and friendly encouragement.
- A few zits does not equal acne. Moaning about your one spot in front of someone with acne is pretty insensitive.
- A person suffering from acne is doing their goddamn best to live a normal life, while feeling distraught about their appearance. You should be in awe of their courage.
And finally, people who have acne like to be looked in the eye, not in the skin. Be kind. Superiority or bitchiness are far uglier conditions to suffer from.