This June marks Acne Awareness Month, a time to talk and be open about something that affects so many of us year upon year. The discussion around acne, particularly in the news media, has created a sort of stigma regarding what acne actually is, who it affects, and why so many of us struggle with it. This alone can leave many believing acne myths and not really knowing why we suffer from it. This month really should be a time to change this for the better.
Knowing how many of us suffer from acne can really put into perspective just how common suffering from skin issues is. Put simply, acne is a condition that effects over half of all women aged 20 to 29 according to Healthline. However, this is not something that affects only young women. Many people commonly begin to struggle during puberty due to hormone imbalances, but this can also be the case as young women head into their twenties, as well as during and after pregnancy, and even during the menopause. Sometimes people will struggle for a few years and that will be all, others have lived most of their lives with clear skin and then suddenly develop acne in later years. Either way, both journeys with acne can be extremely troubling and therefore it is imperative that we begin to break this issue down.
For years now on social media our favourite influencers, celebrities and friends have edited, airbrushed or touched up photos to make them more ‘Instagramable’ - with the constant stigma around showing only the best parts of your life. Many of us are still ‘guilty’ of this; but I would use that term very loosely as we shouldn’t feel guilty as such for not wanting to show ourselves to the world when we aren’t feeling our most confident. Nevertheless, this has created a pressure to look a certain way and see our skin as less than what we regard as perfect. More recently, the emergence of beauty filters on apps such as TikTok and Instagram has led many of us to compare ourselves to an image that isn’t an accurate depiction of real life and real skin. These distorted images can have really devastating consequences for those who are vulnerable.
This in itself sort of exemplifies why Acne Awareness Month really is something to discuss and research if you yourself are struggling or perhaps know someone who is. If you do feel more comfortable discussing your skin with a health professional than this is certainly a plausible option and is recommended by the British Skin Foundation. But regardless of topical treatments, antibiotics and lifestyle changes, I believe learning to feel confident and content with your skin really is the biggest treatment there is. Surrounding yourself with positive influences, albeit online, on social media or perhaps in person, can make the smallest improvement to how you are able to view your own skin. I know myself that this is not an easy journey, but it can be extremely beneficial in the long run.
The most important thing however is to start talking and listening. Skin conditions like acne should not be treated as a taboo subject nor the topic of uncleanliness and poor hygiene, it really is time to start normalising them.
Written by Maggie Gannon