How Julie Conquered Severe Acne

Like many people, 31-year-old Julie Lin of Austin, Texas, thought that acne was mainly a problem for teenagers. She learned through personal experience that this is not always the case — especially if you develop acne vulgaris.

“I first got mild acne when I was in high school, mostly small pimples all over my forehead,” Lin says. “They went away on their own, but my first serious bout of severe acne happened when I was 21. I thought you were supposed to grow out of acne, but acne seemed to be happening to me in reverse!”

Actually, what Lin experienced is not uncommon. Acne often starts at about age 11 or 12 and can be the first sign of puberty, but it doesn’t always end there.

“It used to be thought of as a ‘teenage problem,’” says Jessica Krant, MD, a New York City dermatologist and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. “We now know it continues into adulthood for some people. And, some people who never had a problem with acne as a teen suddenly may start to break out in their 30s or 40s.”

In Lin’s case, acne began as small, skin-colored bumps around her chin and jawline that worsened over a year or two. After she squeezed the bumps and used various acne treatments, they became inflamed pustules. Soon they spread to her cheeks, temples, and forehead. The pimples grew larger, and deep painful cysts would develop.

Perhaps the worst effect of her acne, however, was on her self-esteem. She declined invitations to go out with friends because she didn’t want anyone to see her skin. When social interaction was unavoidable, she says she looked down at her feet the whole time. When people asked about her skin or suggested that she wash her face, she only felt worse and more self-conscious, she says. She became moody, negative, and depressed — and she was desperate for relief.

“I used all sorts of things to treat my acne — over-the-counter acne creams, home remedies, chemical peels, prescription products, you name it," Lin says. "At one point, I was even trying to see if hypnosis treatments existed for clearing skin! I bought pretty much every acne kit out there and even acne e- books that promised an ‘acne cure.’ Unfortunately, none of that worked.”

Helping Others Living With Severe Acne

After personally enduring the physical and emotional toll of acne, Lin decided she wanted to assist others. In 2008, she started the website to share what she had learned and to help others avoid the frustration of trying so many unsuccessful products and treatments.

Lin also emphasizes the importance of perseverance. “Learn about your individual skin,” she says. “Everyone’s skin responds differently to treatments, and everyone gets acne for different reasons. Figure out your own skin and learn what’s causing you to break out. This will take lots of time and patience. But listen to what it’s trying to tell you, and don’t give up.”

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