A woman felt too self-conscious to have sex when acne flared up across her body.
Human resources manager Mandy Naz was just 15-years-old when she started battling the skin problem in September, 2007.
She went to the doctors for advice and was diagnosed with severe nodulocystic acne that can cause scarring and pain.
The 29-year-old from Paris, France, gets spots on her face, forehead, chest, neck and back that ooze pus and are highly uncomfortable.
And that’s not all, as she found a cyst on her groin a few months later.
Mandy was diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa – a painful long-term skin condition that causes abscesses scarring.
She said: "Acne and hidradenitis suppurativa have limited me a lot in my life.
"The outbreaks of the condition are located in the large folds of the body where there is a lot of movement which restricted my ability to do sports for many years – movement was not possible because of the rubbing.
"When the abscesses became too painful, I had to have them incised by a doctor which forced me to miss classes at school and later to take time out of work.
"It affected my relationship because it became difficult to deal with intimacy.
"The hardest thing about this skin disease is the unpredictability. You never know when a new flare-up is going to happen and when it does, you wonder how long it will last.
"Sometimes you have to cancel planned activities with friends at the last minute and you end up cutting yourself off socially because you can't live the way you want – for many years, I couldn't even wear the clothes I wanted to wear like jeans because they were too tight.”
Mandy continued: "My self-confidence was very badly damaged during the years I suffered badly from acne because I had to face the stares of people looking at my face and bust. The looks were derogatory as if I were dirty.
"When I had a boyfriend, it impacted the intimate moments of our relationship because sometimes it just wasn't possible.
"I was afraid my abscesses, cysts and pimples would disgust my partner even though I knew he loved me.
"I have always been very, very self-conscious about the scars left by my acne, especially on my forehead and back. I always wore makeup and refused to wear clothes with low backs, even though I really wanted to."
Mandy was prescribed creams with drying products like benzoyl peroxide by a pharmacist – but they did little to help.
It wasn't until her doctor told her about the Diane-35 pill – a treatment used on severe acne when other forms of medication haven't worked – that her symptoms eased.
Mandy took Diane-35 pill for ten years but decided to come off medication on her 27th birthday in 2018.
She tried out a naturopathic approach, which led to her acne flaring up for four months and making it difficult to sleep or leave the house.
However, after 18 months her natural solutions – which include a healthy diet, medicinal plants, exercising several times a week, lymphatic massages, sauna, and vegetable and essential oils – have seen her condition reduce significantly.
Mandy has been cyst and abscess free for two years, which is something she had never managed before.
Mandy said: "I have a great interest in the natural world and am convinced Mother Nature can give us everything we need.
"I stopped eating gluten and dairy products as both are inflammatory and started doing detoxes with the help of Naturopath.
"I worked on my anxiety and mental health which is very much related to my skin issues. I learned to meditate and breathe properly and use herbs to drain toxins, relieve pain and cleanse the body.
"I feel better in my skin because I can finally enjoy a normal life.
"The advice I would give to all those who suffer with skin disease is that it's normal to devalue yourself sometimes but you have to believe that you are worth more than your skin. Love yourself because no one will do it better than you.
"Your body is not doing this to hurt you, it's doing this to find a balance so you must help it. Do not hesitate to explore other treatment avenues.
"I often say 'it's not the quality of our skin that matters but the quality of our thoughts about it.'"
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