I was the first girl to get pimples in my fifth grade class. Unsightly little bumps started to form on my forehead about the same time I got glasses, making adolescence even more awkward than it should have been. As I grew older, the tiny bumps morphed into angry, pus-filled pimples that left icepick scars even though I dared not pop them. It was fairly common for people to tell me that I would have been prettier if I had clearer skin.
Acne was pretty much the bane of my existence during my teens and early 20s, and I tried everything I could to get rid of them. I’d have regular facials to clear out my pores, I made sure to minimize my consumption of oily or spicy foods, and I washed, toned, and moisturized religiously. Yet the zits continued to sprout until I was around 23. Dealing with them was pretty frustrating, especially since none of my friends had any more than the occasional pimple to worry about, and no one else in my immediate family seemed to have the same bad skin I had.
Although I no longer suffer from severe acne, I’m a truth seeker by nature and I wondered if my skin problem was a matter of genetics. No one in my dad’s family had any acne problems, so I asked my mom if she or any of her siblings ever had the same skin issues I had.
My mom recounted the only time she suffered from severe acne. In her mid or early twenties, she used an anti-aging product that contained tretinoin, the acidic form of vitamin A. She discovered the hard way that she was allergic to the ingredient; large, red bumps started forming all over her cheeks, and it took a very long time for the acne to go away. “It’s a good thing there are now injections that get rid of acne,” my mom said. “Back then there were no such acne treatments, and I had no choice but to put up with the pimples until they went away on their own.” She also mentioned that two of her brothers – my titos – had bad acne from their teens until adulthood, which left massive crater scars. So if my adolescent acne problem was a genetic inheritance, I must have gotten it from my mom’s side of the gene pool.
It sucks to know that you can’t really have control over the quality of your skin. But if there’s one good thing that came from having acne at an early age, it’s that I discovered some things I can do to minimize the damage. Developing a good skin care routine and using the right products really helped. After some time, I noticed that many commercial skin care products seemed to aggravate the problem, and switching to gentler brands really helped. Eating well and sticking to a good sleep schedule also seemed to reduce the damage. Today, I only ever deal with the occasional pimple when I PMS, and I’m so relieved that my acne problem has finally disappeared.
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