(Audio or text only clips) Yi first had acne when she was 14. Her skin improved after taking Chinese medicine and having facials, but her acne returned when she moved to the UK. Acne has negatively impacted on Yi’s social life and made her feel very unhappy in the past.
Yi first developed acne in her mid-teens whilst living in her home country of China. Her skin had previously been in quite good condition. She was not worried when spots began to appear and she hoped that they would go away. However, her acne became worse over time. She used BB cream to cover up the acne at first but found that the wrong shade could make her skin look worse. At the age of 16, she went to see a doctor who gave her a Chinese medicine to drink twice a day. She took this for one year, even though it tasted very unpleasant. She also went to a hospital department for weekly face masks. Her skin began to improve and she felt good. During this time, Yi made plans for seeing people, travelling and enjoying life things which she had put on hold whilst she had acne. Yi then moved to England for her university studies and found that the difference in climate caused her skin to break-out again. She felt hopeless and helpless that her acne had returned, fearing that she may never have clear skin again. She currently uses a shop-bought gel for her acne which seems to be working well, but says that it is still very much a struggle to get her skin in the clear condition that she would like.
Yi was advised by her doctors in China to avoid touching her skin because this can spread bacteria and cause irritation. Her doctor also encouraged her to make dietary changes, such as drinking more water and cutting out some kinds of foods. Yi stopped eating spicy and sugary foods, such as chocolate, ice-cream and sweets, for about two years. She found this very hard as she loves eating these foods and she has recently started eating them again. Other things she has tried for her acne include dabbing tea tree oil directly on to spots and a doctor-prescribed tablet which she eventually stopped because one side effect was weight gain. Yi has looked online for information about acne. She’s cautious about some of the information as many of the websites advertised products.
Yi didn’t talk to her family or friends about acne when it first began to develop on her face as she didn’t think it was serious. She became more worried when her acne became more severe and this is when she asked for a doctor’s appointment. She also talked to her friends more about her skin; this was helpful because they had some good advice and Yi was able to see that other people were also affected. Yi’s parents have offered her emotional support and reassurance that she doesn’t need to conceal her skin. They took her to see a doctor when she wanted to go and also helped remind her to take the medicines. Yi finds that it’s much tougher for her to deal with having acne in the UK because she doesn’t have the medical treatments or support of her family back in China.
Acne has made Yi feel very unhappy before. She avoided seeing people, except close friends and family, and would stay at home on her own instead. A turning point was when her friends encouraged her to go to a school reunion; although she was initially reluctant, she had a good time and started going out more often. She wore heavy make-up when she started university, but found that the acne was still visible. Yi thinks that wearing make-up can also be bad for acne because she says it doesn’t let the skin breathe. She found it difficult when she first stopped wearing make-up: she was very shy, avoided eye-contact and felt uncomfortable when people looked at her. She feels more confident now that she has a skin care routine which seems to be helping. This includes using a gel and overnight face masks. These can leave residues and stains on her pillows, so she finds that she has to do more laundry. She thinks this also helps reduce the amount of bacteria likely to be coming into contact with her face. Yi’s focus at the moment is on clearing her acne, but she is also concerned about scarring. Her advice to other young people with acne is to keep feeling good about themselves and not to let acne be too big a problem in their lives.