It’s one of life’s most unfortunate (and little-known) truths: acne can strike at any age. In fact, of the 85 per cent of Aussies who suffer from the skin condition, nearly half will continue to battle the spots well into adulthood.
No one knows this better than mum-of-two Steph Klassen, who was 25-years-old and pregnant when she suffered her first breakout. Now, she’s bravely sharing make-up free selfies on Instagram to remind the world that acne doesn’t discriminate.
“I’m pretty sure I have a warped image of what’s actually looking back at me at this point,” she told the Daily Mail. “People tell me it’s looking so much better. But I just see a mess. Some days I feel like a monster.”
Initially, the cysts on Steph’s face were so severe, she developed sepsis – a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body reacts to an infection. She was admitted to the ICU and survived, but miscarried her baby at 18 weeks.
“The cysts were so deep they were hitting the nerve endings in my face,” she explained.
“The feeling was like a million lightning bolts shooting all across my face. I would actually twitch involuntarily.”
“I wouldn’t wash my face or touch it,” she continued. “Sometimes I felt so hopeless I’d just sit and cry.”
Since the heartbreaking incident, Steph has been treating her acne with Accutane and following a strict anti-inflammatory diet. She also takes hormone-balancing capsules, turmeric supplements, iodine drops and swears by essential oils.
But despite her extreme skincare regime – nothing has helped rid her of the “debilitating” spots.
“It’s so hard to not assume that everyone is staring at me and thinking ‘omg look at her face,’” she wrote in a recent Instagram post. “I go out and I have a hard time making eye contact or even holding my head high. I end up exhausted from trying to keep myself from bawling or just straight up losing it."
While Steph may never be acne-free, she has managed to find solace in her online community and through sharing her story with other sufferers.
“I’ve had an amazing support system through this season in my life,” she told the publication. “My husband, friends, family, my faith and even strangers have kept me going when I thought there was no way I could.”