“Your face is full of pimples”

“Wash your face more often”

“Not eating vegetables?”

“Don’t eat so many chocolates”

“What happened to your face?”

“Your face is completely spoiled”

These are just some of the many comments I have got because of my acne. As if adult acne were not bad enough, I have had to tolerate insensitive people tell me how bad and disfigured I looked. As a young woman these comments shattered my confidence. Ever since I was 14, I was fighting 2 battles. One with my acne and the other with my battered self esteem. For some reason because I have acne it’s been assumed that I’m also pretty dumb, have no feelings, do not know much about hygiene and nutrition and sit around all day eating chocolates.

I was told to develop a thick skin and not to be so sensitive. Not a chance. I was not going to change who I was because some people can’t keep their mouths shut when they have nothing nice to say. I don’t know what it is about acne that brings out this need in some people to point it out. Even strangers have come up to me to give me advice. Suddenly they all turned into dermatologists. They came in all shapes and sizes and they all gave me different cures. They ranged from downright dumb to completely insane. A middle aged man in a bookstore told me to make a paste of soap and apply in on my face before I sleep. A young girl running a chocolate stall at a local fair told me not to eat chocolates. Funny thing is I am one of those weird people who for some strange reason hates chocolates, always have and always will. I was at the chocolate stall to buy something for my husband who loves chocolates.

Imagine the hurt and the pain, not to mention the severe blow my self esteem took when someone turned to me once and said “Your face is full of pimples.” I felt ashamed of myself and hurt. What is the correct response, if there is one, to that statement? Do these people go around dropping these gems on everyone or is it just reserved for those of us having acne? Do they realize that they have just ruined our day and put us in a bad mood, feeling hopeless about our acne? Acne is not life threatening, but the confidence and personality of the person suffering from it takes a battering. Comments, especially disguised under “I’m just trying to help” do not help one bit. Most people having acne are well aware of it. They are bothered by it, and are probably seeking help. If you see one outside they are probably trying to go about their lives as normal in spite of their acne. Don’t make them feel sorry they ventured out of their homes.

“Why so many pimples on your face?” I got asked. If I knew the answer to this I would be a millionaire, wait, make that a billionaire. I would have cured the millions of people suffering from acne and I would have retired to my private island. On the other hand if I respond to that question with “Why are you so fat?” I am positive I would be met with hurt looks and lectured about how I should not be saying that. Acne is somehow my fault but being fat is because of factors beyond anyone’s control.

Now I’m pretty sure most people do not go around doing this, but here is something I really want to say. People suffering from acne are very sensitive about it and do not like being reminded about it. No, we do not know what causes it and neither does anyone else. People who have clear skin may think that what they do keeps it clear. But nothing they do keeps their skin clear and nothing we do makes us have acne. Acne is not the result of something we are consciously doing. The truth is we are prone to acne by factors beyond our control. Our genes, our environment and our lifestyle all determine if we will have acne or not. Only one of these is within our control.

For the past 4 years I have managed to control my acne. My skin is clear for the first time in years. I do get breakouts but I now know what causes them and what to do to make them heal faster. I can say with confidence that I’m pretty much over the worst of it. I have now made it my mission to help other women clear their skin.

Originally published at medium.com