I only think about writing this when I have a bad breakout. I have one now because I binged on sugar over the 4th of July holiday. I feel ugly because of two spots on my face and a lot of pockmarks. I've felt this way for nearly thirty years now on and off, depending on how bad the acne has been. I'm 41 and I'm guessing I started breaking out around 13.

This is for all of you who are teenagers or adults who have suffered from bad acne: You are beautiful. You are handsome. You are so much more than the zits you see in the mirror. Please remember this.

My husband has spent most of the 16 years we've been together telling me I'm beautiful. Sometimes it sinks in. But when I get a breakout, sometimes all I can see is the teenager who has no photos from a year of her life because the acne was so bad, I tore them up.

I've tried lots of treatments over the years: Retin A, Accutane, biofeedback, homeopathy, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietary changes. I even had doctors inject cysts with needles to drain them. Not fun. I'm an acupuncturist now and still needles near my face make me twitch, although they're no where near the size of the hypodermics the dermatologists used on me years ago.

I feel like sharing some of this with all of the kids I see who have acne but I know that the last thing we want is to have attention drawn to us. People without acne do that all by themselves.

This is the wisdom I can share with you. I'm not trying to sell a product or a lifestyle. But here are my two cents:

1) Change your diet now. Go see a nutritionist for advice on this. You can try elminating gluten, sugar and dairy from your diet and see what the culprit is. All of them contribute to inflammation in the body, which can make acne worse.

I waited about 20 years after my first breakout to change my diet. If I had known that it would have had such a dramatic effect, I would have given up wheat when I became a teenager. Seriously. I had to choose between eating really good croissants and clearer skin. I think I made the right choice.

2) See your doctor. A dermatologist specializes in disorders of the skin and can help you find the right medicine.

3) Get acupuncture. Both acupuncture and Chinese herbs, as well as other Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments like cupping, can help clear the toxins out of your body that contribute to acne and bring balance to your skin.

4) Go see an esthetician. She is not just someone who does facials, but can also show you how to take care of your skin.

5) Consider talking to a therapist. Acne is more than skin deep. Unsolicited remarks from strangers or even family members can cut like knives.

6) Know that you're not alone. Sometimes I think this is the hardest thing to remember. We live in a world where everyone in magazines looks perfect but that's only because the pictures have been edited to make them that way. No one is perfect.

7) Mirrors lie. See yourself through the eyes of those who love you. The people in your life who love you think you're beautiful. They don't care about the zits you see. They care about what's inside your heart. I know it may sound corny but it's really true.

There are a lot of us out there who have suffered from bad acne. You are so much more than the surface of your skin. Know that there is help out there. Know that you are loved. Know that you are beautiful.


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