Family life and acne

Most people turned to their parents to help them when they first noticed their acne. Parents or siblings were often the first to give advice and support. A few people said that their parents just saw acne as “normal” in teenagers and were not concerned about it. Molly remembers her parents saw it as “just a natural kind of puberty thing and I should just let it go”.

However, parents could also be the ones to draw their attention to the fact that the acne had become bad, or that it was beginning to affect other parts of their life.
Family could be a huge support for young people with acne. In particular, knowing parents had had acne themselves, or having siblings with acne, could make it easier to deal with.
Siblings and parents often offered practical support and advice, such as showing young people how to apply creams, suggesting which products and alternative therapies to try out, reminding them to take their tablets (e.g. antibiotics and isotretinoin), and paying for treatments. Quite a few talked about their parents researching acne on the internet and finding home remedies. 

Family support with medical appointments was especially important for some people. This could mean encouraging them to go, telling them what to say, or attending appointments with them. Molly didn’t feel she needed her mum with her when she went for check-ups, but when she went to ask for a referral she found it “useful” to have her mum there.
Parents could also be involved with difficult decisions about taking medication such as the pill or isotretinoin. Sarah’s mum was against her taking isotretinoin and that influenced her decision not to take it.
Being at home with parents and siblings could be the one place where people were able to feel relaxed about their acne.
Families were often quite accommodating about the fact they might take longer in the bathroom to do their skincare routine. Tom shared a bathroom with his parents, which wasn’t a problem as he went to bed at different times to them. Harriet and her brothers “got into a little routine” so that they each had time in the bathroom in the mornings. But Marga and Emma mentioned that their parents or siblings sometimes complained if they were in the bathroom for a long time and Marga sometimes made “a bit of a mess around the sink” and had to clean up afterwards.

However, it could be awkward or upsetting having parents comment on the acne either at home or to relatives and friends. Although Rachael said her parents were “quite good to talk to”, she found it hard when they “would like point out” or say “it looks really painful”. Naomi “burst into tears” when a family member gave her unwanted advice about acne. She explained, “I just thought like ‘what kind of right do you have to tell me what is and isn’t going to fix my skin?’”
Harriet said it was not helpful when her mum told her that when her granny had had bad skin, her sisters had pinned her down and scrubbed her face. Nina explains that her mother and sister used to “like point out that I had like scarring and my mum has definitely been very worried about my scarring which makes me feel like ‘Oh no it’s really horrible, it’s really bad.’”


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