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‘It’s not just a spot - it affects you deeply’: Acne patients speak out about impact of condition

Sioned Rowlands had severe acne in high school. Photo: Sioned Rowlands

Acne affects at least half the population at some point in their lives. It can have a profound effect, with nearly 90% of teenagers reporting that the condition has impacted their confidence.

But there are no specific services in Wales where psychologists and dermatologists work together - unlike in England.

Now, three acne patients have shared their stories with ITV Wales in a bid to increase awareness - as figures suggest almost seven in ten teenagers with the condition feel there isn’t enough support available.

Sioned is now studying at university and has the confidence to face the world. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Sioned Rowlands had severe acne when she was at school. She said it was so bad her skin would break by just touching it.

It was just really uncomfortable even just trying to put a top over your head. My acne was so bad, the skin was very fragile and it would break just touching it, basically.

If friends in school brought a phone out to take a picture, I’d really get anxious and just be like, 'I don't want to be in it'. And I’d avoid mirrors. I just didn’t want to be reminded about it.

– Sioned Rowlands
Bride Rachel sought treatment for her acne before her wedding day. Credit: Vision Avenue Wedding Films / Rachel Brown

Newlywed Rachel Brown developed acne in her twenties.

She made the decision to seek help privately to improve her skin before her wedding day.

For those that haven’t been affected, it’s hard to understand. It’s tricky to talk about it without getting really emotional about it.

You just feel lost and it isolates you sometimes as well, because you don’t want to go out. You don’t want to do anything, you cancel plans, you stop going to things, you become withdrawn from people.

It’s not just a spot. It’s people’s lives and it does affect you deeply.

– Rachel Brown

According to the Talkhealth Survey 2017, nearly half of people have acne at some point in their lives.

87%
of people surveyed said it affected their confidence
69%
of people surveyed felt there wasn't enough support available

We’re surrounded by media images of perfect faces and perfect bodies, and if you have a condition which means that you don’t fit that ideal it can be really upsetting.

We often see people in clinic with depression and anxiety, related specifically to the way that their skin makes them feel.

– Dr Kate Chapman, Consultant Clinical & Health Psychologist

The Welsh Government says health boards are expected to put in place services tailored to the individual needs of patients, including any psychological support they might require to help them manage their condition.

Nia Patten writes openly about her acne on her beauty blog. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Nia Patten decided to go public with her experience of acne. She writes a beauty blog, exploring different products and techniques to help other sufferers.

I think if you’re only presenting your skin at its best then you’re not really telling your readers the truth.

I think it helps people to understand where you’re coming from if you’re talking about skincare that’s going to help your acne.

It helps people to relate to you.

– Nia Patten

You can see more of these stories on Wales This Week: Brave Face, Monday at 8:00pm on ITV Wales, or by visiting the ITV Wales programmes page.