Acceptance by Peers Can Be Difficult With Cystic Acne

Tara Johnston, a resident of London, England is now twenty years old but still coping with severe acne.

Tara interviewed with MyLondon in an effort to raise awareness and share her painful earlier years with others who are going through the same, sometimes cruel, time in their young lives. She bravely appeared in several Instagram snaps without makeup, hoping to empower others with cystic acne. The taunts Tara endured throughout her teens gave rise to a strong desire to embolden others.

Her acne breakouts began when she was sixteen. Overnight her face developed such painful lumps that it hurt to smile. However, there were very few occasions when she felt like smiling.

Tara was prescribed antibiotics, but the treatment was unsuccessful. She was referred to a dermatologist who diagnosed her condition as cystic acne.

Perhaps a good example of the severity of her condition occurred when a stranger asked her if she had been “punched in the face.”

The Impact of Cystic Acne

Tara describes cystic acne as having an impact on everything. She explains that one spot on your face can easily be covered up, but that is not the case with cystic acne. In fact, when she first began having breakouts she had two lumps on her forehead that remained there for nine months. She can have periods of clear skin. Last year her acne-free period lasted eight months, but it is always a disappointment when she is thrust into another period of disfiguring acne.

Still Searching for a Cure

Tara has experimented with antibiotic therapies. She had hoped that Roaccutane, which is used as a last resort, would stop the breakouts. It did, in fact, help Tara who hoped her skin would finally clear up permanently, but that did not happen.

Roaccutane has severe side effects, not only on the skin and lips, but it increases sensitivity to sunlight. The drug also causes anxiety. Therefore, Tara had to discontinue using the drug.

The only noticeable trigger is cold weather. Other than that, the breakouts are unpredictable. Tara is currently waiting for test results that may indicate a hormonal condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). She feels that if it is PCOS it will be a relief to have an answer and perhaps be eligible for treatment.

Friends on Social Media

Tara cautions her Instagram followers (700) not to “pile on cover makeup” as it clogs the pores and only aggravates the acne.

There is also the problem of wearing protective masks. She finds that wearing a mask causes “spots” to form around the mask area. Tara applied for a lanyard that will show that she is exempt from wearing a mask.

Tara is determined to use her social media platform to at least attempt to remove the stigma of severe acne. She believes that people consider the condition as being caused by having “dirty skin”.

Tara concluded the interview with MyLondon by saying that people should be a little more considerate and understanding. She has learned to live with the condition and hopes others with have more empathy.

Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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